Antti Sillanpää: Cybersecurity for citizens and society

4.10.2019 10.43
Press release

Finland’s national cybersecurity strategy implements the EU’s cybersecurity guidelines. The new strategy stresses the importance of cooperation and competence, but also highlights the need for better coordination of cybersecurity management.

October is the European Cybersecurity Month. The campaign aims to expand awareness among citizens and organisations of cybersecurity, which is also one of the priorities listed in the cybersecurity strategy of the European Union. During the month, awareness will be raised about how individuals can better protect their data and stay safe online.

Digital security work extends from citizens to organisations, nation states, and the European Union as a whole. The Finnish government adopted new guidelines on cybersecurity on 3 October 2019. Finland has a robust and well-functioning model of comprehensive security that has been developed successfully for decades. Comprehensive security is also strongly reflected in Finland’s new cybersecurity strategy.

All working for a safe society

The basic idea of comprehensive security can be described as a round table. Those around the table – public authorities, companies, organisations and citizens – are all working to uphold a safe society. Extensive collaboration of this kind functions well both at national and at EU level. One of the priorities of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is to protect the security of citizens comprehensively.

National and European cyber countermeasures

Finland’s cybersecurity strategy has three strategic guidelines. The first guideline is international cooperation. It is a natural choice as the first guideline, as digitalisation and its threats and opportunities are all global. The EU is a key operator for Finland in cybersecurity issues. It has started to improve its resilience and to create deterrence against situations where state actors are increasingly deploying cyber tools to achieve geopolitical objectives.

Cyber countermeasures are part of Finland’s national cyber toolbox, but we need international cooperation to counter malicious cyber activities by state actors. The European Union, for example, can now impose sanctions, which raises the threshold for state actors to interfere in member states’ affairs. The EU can impose targeted restrictive measures to deter and respond to cyberattacks which constitute an external threat to the EU or its member states.

Better coordination and training at all levels

The second guideline in Finland’s cybersecurity strategy aims to improve cybersecurity management, while the third guideline focuses on increasing cybersecurity competence. We must promote cybersecurity skills and knowledge at all levels among citizens, companies and public authorities. We need top talents in the private and public sectors, but good cybersecurity practices should also be a part of everyone’s daily routine.

Finland’s Presidency stresses the importance of maintaining a high level of cybersecurity and of promoting cybersecurity skills. Developing cybersecurity skills is also highlighted during the European Cybersecurity Month.

Cybersecurity skills are important because we all produce security. When we as citizens, consumers and employees behave skilfully and responsibly in cyber space, all individuals and society as a whole can enjoy the benefits of cybersecurity.

Antti Sillanpää, Senior Researcher, Secretariat of the Security Committee