Cyber security and the cyber domain

The cyber domain and cyber security have become an important aspect of Finland’s foreign and security policy. Because cyber threats do not respect national borders, we need first and foremost to strengthen international cooperation in cyber security. The Foreign Ministry coordinates this international activity.

Foreign Ministry coordinates Finland's participation in international cyber cooperation. Photo: Grant Hutchinson/ to another website.) (Opens New Window), cc by-nc-nd 2.0(Link to another website.) (Opens New Window)

The cyber domain refers to the man-made digital parallel reality, which world-wide connects people and equipment across the borders of states through information technology, automated control systems, the Internet and social media.

Everyday functions vital to our society, such as industry, water and energy supply, the bank system, health care and transport depend on digital networks.

The rapid development of information technology and global digital networks such as the Internet and the social media operating therein, have brought great opportunities for economic growth, innovation, the creation of enterprises and growth. They also promote social participation and the development of democracy.

However, digital networks are vulnerable and their rise has led to new types of threats, such as cybercrime, cyber espionage, cyber strikes and, at worst, cyber attacks. 

So that governments, enterprises and private citizens can utilise the opportunities brought about by the cyber domain, it is important to ensure that these networks operate as reliably and securely as possible.

Finland’s Cyber Security Strategy

The aim of Finland’s national cyber security strategy is to respond to cyber threats, strengthen the overall security of society and ensure the smooth functioning of the cyber domain in all circumstances.

The Strategy presents ten objectives that, when implemented, provide Finland with the capability nationally to control the intentional and unintentional adverse effects of the cyber domain as well as to respond to and recover from them.

One of the objectives is that Finland shall strengthen its national cyber security by participating actively and effectively in international discussions and cooperation on cyber security.

The Foreign Ministry coordinates this international activity.

The Security Committee monitors the implementation of Finland’s Cyber Security Strategy.

International cooperation in cyber issues

Because cyber threats do not respect the borders between states, international cooperation above all is needed in order to strengthen cyber security.

As concerns cyber security, particularly increasing confidence between states is a key issue. Efforts to this end are pursued by intensifying the discussion of cyber domain related issues between states multilaterally, regionally and bilaterally.

Discussion of the cyber domain takes place, among others, within the scope of the United Nations, the OSCE, the EU, the Council of Europe, the OECD, NATO, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

The Foreign Ministry coordinates Finland’s participation in international cooperation and takes an active part in global, regional and bilateral discussion of the cyber domain.

To Finland, especially the EU is a central player in cyber security issues. The EU has formulated a number of common policies on cyber issues, among them the Council Conclusions on Cyber Diplomacy adopted by the Council of the European Union in February 2015.

The EU’s objective is to promote the realisation of core values (including human rights and fundamental rights) also in the cyber domain. In international cooperation the EU stresses openness, respect for freedom of expression and the protection of privacy, as well as the multi-stakeholder model where stakeholders are also included in the global dialogue.

In the international dialogue Finland promotes the consistent implementation of the open dissemination of information and freedom of expression, and emphasises non-discrimination. Finland, together with the other EU countries, considers that the agreements and standards pertaining to international law are also applicable to the cyber domain, and that their interpretation in this regard shall be deepened.

Furthermore, both Nordic cooperation and cooperation among the Nordic and Baltic countries in cyber security issues is close. As a NATO Partnership for Peace country, Finland also conducts cooperation with NATO in cyber security issues.

Important global issues include for instance the application of international law and human rights, such as freedom of expression and the protection of privacy, in the cyber domain, confidence-building measures, management of the Internet, the development of cyber capabilities as well as increasing security in the cyber domain.

One key challenge is to find a balance between the freedom and transparency of digital networks, on the one hand, and their security on the other hand.

An Ambassador for Cyber Diplomacy has worked in The Ministry for Foreign Affairs since 2014. Jarmo Sareva is currently serving as the Ambassador for Cyber Diplomacy.