What is national security?
National security is about the common security of Finnish society and about Finland’s sovereignty. The concept of national security is dynamic and it is defined both temporally and in relation to Finland’s changing threat and operating environment. Previously, we have talked about ‘state security’ instead of ‘national security’.
National security is often described through threats against it. These are threats that affect Finnish society as a whole, such as terrorism, espionage and harmful action by a foreign state. Exerting influence through hybrid activities, cyber threats and protection of critical infrastructure are also linked to national security.
Protection of national security is a joint effort
Our operating environment is constantly changing. These changes are reflected in different policy sectors, which is why the actions of only one ministry or government agency are not sufficient to protect national security. For this reason, there must be continuous cooperation in national security issues, for example by monitoring how up to date legislation is or by monitoring the situation picture of different threats. A common situation picture shared by several different operators improves the ability to respond to threats.
Increase in the risks of hybrid influence activities against Finland
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 brought about fundamental and long-term changes in our operating environment. Although Finland is not currently facing a military threat, the risks of hybrid influence activities against Finland have increased.
Hybrid influence activities refer to harmful action by a state actor in which the aim is to conceal both the perpetrator and the objective of the action, and which does not involve military use of force.
Hybrid influence activities can include spreading false information on social media, interfering with or causing criminal damage to the functioning of critical infrastructure or facilitating a mass influx of migrants. In Ukraine, for example, Russia has used hybrid influence activities, such as large-scale cyber attacks, to support its military actions.
Because of the changes in our operating environment, the authorities have intensified their cooperation and increased their preparedness to respond to hybrid threats against Finland.
Data will become increasingly important as a strategic resource
A good example of a change in the operating environment is the ongoing global technological competition. In this competition, national security must be seen and understood across a broad front and the partly hidden links to national security still existing between different branches and policy sectors must be identified. We must be better able to protect our data and knowledge capital so that we can adapt to and thrive in a world where data is becoming a strategic resource comparable to oil or minerals.
Other changes in the operating environment affecting national security include the polarisation of society and the change in the competition between the great powers. Various global security threats are often also reflected in Finland, which is why national security is strongly linked to foreign and security policy decision-making.
National security and its protection are significantly affected by digitalisation and the technological revolution to which our society is linked through global information networks and data flows. Data will become increasingly important as a strategic resource. Today, the great powers compete not only for influence and the capacity of the armed forces, but also for technology.
The management and utilisation of data combined with new and emerging technologies will change the strategic dependencies of national security and create new vulnerabilities but also opportunities. This accelerating technological competition emphasises both the increase in innovation capacity and the protection of intellectual capital.
Inquiries: Hannu Kotipelto, tel. +358 295 488 354