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SUPO National Security Assessment 2019: Dozens of Spies in Finland


The Finnish Security and Intelligence Service SUPO was transformed into a full-blown intelligence agency when the new intelligence laws for military and civilian intelligence were passed this summer. In the new role SUPO can now engage in activities like network traffic intelligence and intelligence operations abroad. While the new powers are not yet fully utilized, SUPO's situational awareness should have improved a lot in the recent months.

SUPO recruitment poster

On December 5, 2019 SUPO published its annual assessment of the Finland’s security situation. It splits the Finnish security environment into four areas:
  •           Foreign intelligence activity targeting Finland and Finns
  •           Cyber espionage
  •           Threat of terrorism in Finland
  •           Hybrid threats


SUPO openly states that the most active intelligence agencies operating in Finland are Russian and Chinese. There are dozens of intelligence operatives permanently stationed in Finland. The focus of these agencies are:
  •          Finding influence vectors within the Finnish society
  •          Anticipating strategic decisions made by Finland
  •          Finnish relations with EU, NATO and individual countries
  •          Finnish critical infrastructure
  •          Cybersecurity measures and systems
  •          Industrial espionage on hi-tech companies


The report also mentions that several unnamed countries are conducting intelligence and coercion operations against their citizens living in Finland. It’s widely known that at least Turkey and Iran are trying to intimidate its expats into following regime policies, even if the countries are not mentioned in the report. Report expects the foreign intelligence activity within Finland to remain on the high level or even increase.




There is also an increased amount of cyber espionage and sabotage operations detected. While direct damages have been minimal, it’s expected that these operations continue to proliferate and SUPO is putting considerable amount of resources into combating them.

The threat of terrorism in Finland remains elevated. The biggest threats are lone wolves following extremist Islamist ideologies and naturally the returning ISIS jihadists, whose return cannot be blocked under the current legislation. The report doesn’t state any other terrorist threats besides the jihadists.

Hybrid influencing and operations are mentioned rather vaguely, but its clear that there is significant number of influencing operations going on. Some target the political leadership and economic decision makers. The spectrum of operations is broadening and while the operations are low intensity and long term in nature, there is a real possibility of rapidly ramping them up if needed, with possibly crippling results.

The overall tone of the short report is that Finland is under significant pressure, but not directly attacked, yet. The main threat to Finnish national security is Russia, while China and the Jihadists pose more limited threats to certain areas of the society.

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