Russian Cyberespionage Will Highly Increase this Winter, Warns Finnish Intelligence
Future NATO Membership Will Make the Country a Prime Target for Russian Intelligence and Influence Operations.
The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (SUPO) warns of a highly likely intensification of cyberespionage activities conducted by Russia-linked threat actors over the winter.
According to the Finnish agency’s National Security Overview 2022, published last week, the country’s future NATO membership will make it a prime target for Russian intelligence and influence operations. As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, cyber threats to Finland’s critical infrastructure have increased in both the physical and cyber environments. These malicious activities have the potential to block infrastructure operations, with unforeseeable consequences.
Future NATO membership will make Finland a more interesting target for Russian intelligence and influence operations. One target of particular interest will be the formulation of policy in a militarily allied Finland. Russia’s assessment of what kind of NATO member Finland is becoming determines the aims and methods of influence operations. Finland is portrayed as a member of a hostile alliance, whose location in the near vicinity of Russia exemplifies the threat of NATO enlargement, a narrative disseminated by the Russian regime.
Who Will be the Victims of Russian Cyber Attacks?
SUPO warns that cyber attacks primarily target Western organizations and individuals residing in Finland. Foreigners who live in or visit Russia, as well as Russians who work in the West, are increasingly being targeted by Russian security and intelligence services. Russian citizens in key positions in Finland may face coercion from Russian authorities also.
How Will the Threat Actors Strike
The report claims that Russia’s traditional intelligence gathering activity relied on spies with diplomatic cover; however, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this strategy has become significantly more challenging because many Russian diplomats have been expelled from the West.
Despite the fact that for the time being Russian responses to Finland’s NATO accession process have been restrained and Finland has not been the target of any unusual influence in the course of policymaking, the government is concerned about an escalation of the malicious activities, as per the same report.
Russian intelligence services are likely to try to adapt their operations to respond more effectively to changed circumstances. Russia will probably focus its intelligence operations increasingly on the cyber environment. It is also likely that the threat of business espionage will grow as Russia feels the need to begin substitute manufacturing of cutting-edge technology. Russia may seek to acquire NATO-related intelligence through Finland, states SUPO.
According to Security Affairs, threat actors breached email security and got into the accounts of multiple members of parliament (MPs), an information also confirmed by the Finnish Parliament in December 2020. The attack occurred in the fall of 2020, around the same time that Russian-linked hackers gained access to the emails and data of a small number of Norwegian parliamentary representatives and employees. Foreign hackers breached the internal IT system and gained access to several MPs’ email accounts.
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