Finland’s National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) has joined forces with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to investigate a series of significant cyber attacks against state-run public services websites in the country in August. The most serious targeted attacks left the national police service and other public websites inaccessible to users. The NBI and the NCSC now plan to work more closely with public and private organisations to increase expertise and capability to better defend Finland’s critical IT infrastructure against cyber attacks. Hackers launched a sustained denial-of-service (DoS) assault on a number of popular public websites on 21 August that caused serious disruption to server functionality, connectivity and public services. The DoS strike was latest hostile cyber assault by hackers targeting high-profile public services websites in Finland. Previously, hackers had launched attacks against the City of Lahti’s municipal computer system and the IT system managing the official online results for the Finnish parliamentary elections in April.
A denial of service (DoS) attack against the official online election results service is under investigation in Finland. The National Bureau of Investigation (KRP) on Wednesday reported that the attack took place last weekend, stressing that the attack can have no impact whatsoever on the election results as the targeted service is not related to the casting or counting of votes. The short and low-volume attack caused intermittent disruptions to the results service in the wee hours of last weekend, Arto Jääskeläinen, the head of electoral administration at the Ministry of Justice, told Lännen Media. The service on vaalit.fi is used primarily by small news outlets, he added to Helsingin Sanomat. YLE, Helsingin Sanomat and other major outlets, in turn, have an agreement in place that provides them access to the results data through a secure connection.
The National Bureau of Investigation NBI is looking into the circumstances around an apparent cyber attack against Finland’s election information systems. It happened over the weekend, when the official results service was hit by a denial of service attack. The service sends results to the media, among others. The incident is being investigated as ‘grave telecommunications harassment’ under Finnish law. “The preliminary investigation is at an early stage, so the exact type of criminal charge might become more accurate as the investigation progresses” says Marko Leponen from the NBI’s Cyber Centre. “The authorities have prepared for this type of suspected cyber crime in the elections. In general, attacks on public services are quite common, and especially current or publicly available services are often attractive targets” Leponen explains. Meanwhile more than 1.5 million eligible Finns voted in advance of the general election, as the early voting period came to a close on Monday night.
The country that shares a bigger border with Russia than the rest of the European Union combined is ramping up its defenses against the threat of foreign meddling in its April 14 election. Finland has always had a love-hate relationship with its much bigger neighbor. A history of tension and bloody confrontations has given way to a strong trading partnership, and the country’s diplomatic role as a bridge between Russia and the West is one reason why its capital was picked for last year’s summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. But with evidence of Russian interference in Western politics mounting, the euro area’s northernmost member state remains on high alert. Social media influence campaigns or direct cyber attacks are already thought to have impacted key votes such as the U.S. election in 2016 and the U.K’s Brexit referendum.
Finland: ‘We are constantly one step behind’: Finland worries about cyber warfare in shadow of Russia | The Independent
Finland, on the northern edge of Europe and with a population of fewer than 5.5 million, may not seem an obvious player in struggles of geopolitics. But being situated in the shadow of its giant neighbour, Russia, has meant that the country has been inevitably drawn into the world of hybrid warfare. Helsinki was the focus of global attention as the venue of the summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, with questions inevitably raised over claims that the Russian president had placed his man in the White House through manipulation of the US election. Away for the limelight Helsinki has become the base for a major cyber-defence programme for the west with the establishment of the Nato-backed European Centre for Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threat, which has received funding and resources from the US, Britain, France and Nordic states.
Security concerns have re-emerged to further frustrate the Finnish government’s plans to launch a national e-voting system. But the country’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) working group, which is leading the project, insists the venture is delayed rather than mothballed. Finland’s online e-voting project will now enter a problem-solving phase to identify advanced, effective and best practice solutions to protect a future e-voting system. … The MoJ estimates that the cost of launching and operating an e-voting system, based on a 15-year timespan, will be about €32m. But the risks attached to launching online voting in Finland currently outweigh its benefits, said Johanna Suurpää, chair of the MoJ’s e-voting working group (eVWG). “Our present position is that online voting should not be introduced in general elections as the risks are greater than the benefits,” said Suurpää. In its project feasibility report presented to the MoJ, the eVWG conceded that although a Finnish online e-voting system is technically possible, the technology available is not yet at a “sufficiently high level to meet all the requirements”.
Sauli Niinisto was re-elected as Finland’s president without recourse to a runoff — a first since the post has been settled by popular vote. The 69-year-old former finance minister won the election with 62.7 percent backing, surpassing the 50 percent needed to avoid a second vote. His closest rival, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens, who ran against Niinisto in 2012, had support of 12.4 percent and conceded defeat, YLE said. Turnout was 66.7 percent. “Finland is a great country — it’s the most stable country in the world,” Niinisto told his supporters in Helsinki on Sunday. “Better to be small and stable than large and fractured.”
Finns are expected to re-elect moderate Sauli Niinisto for a second six-year term in elections on Sunday, counting on his skill and caution to ensure a close relationship with NATO without antagonizing neighboring Russia. Niinisto, 69, is credited with helping Finland perform a delicate balancing act between the Kremlin and the U.S.-led military alliance, of which it is not a member but with which it developed closer ties after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. Latest opinion polls by Alma Media and Helsingin Sanomat show support of 58-68 percent for Niinisto, who is originally from conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) – a member of Helsinki’s ruling coalition – but campaigns as an independent.
Finland should not consider setting up an online voting system for its elections just yet, according to a Justice Ministry working group. The risks in doing so at this point are much higher than benefits that e-voting might bring, they said. Some risks the group identified in an online e-voting system include: widespread manipulation of election results, disruption of elections through denial of service attacks and the potential for the loss of voter anonymity through hacks or other methods. The working group said that while current technology is not yet advanced enough, further development of e-voting technologies could bring new opportunities down the road. The basic tech to set up an online voting system for elections is possible today. For example, Finland’s nearby Baltic neighbour Estonia has utilised e-voting for longer than a decade now. According to the country’s website e-estonia.com, some 30 percent of the Estonian electorate voted through online services in their last elections.
As expected, Finnish voters on Sunday turned out their country’s Conservative-led government and its pro-European prime minister, Alex Stubb. The opposition Centre Party came in a clear first, with 21% of the vote. But the verdict seemed more an expression of economic frustration and a rejection of the current government than an endorsement of a new one. Only the smallest of margins separated the runner-up parties: the Conservatives won 18%, the Finns Party 17.6%, and the Social Democrats 16.5%. Finns waited until the last minute to make up their minds. Less than a week before the election, more than 40% of voters were still undecided.
Finland’s opposition Centre Party came out on top in Sunday’s general election, far ahead of the parties in Prime Minister Alexander Stubb’s left-right coalition, partial results showed. If the results were to be confirmed, Centre Party leader Juha Sipila, a 53-year-old IT millionaire and newcomer to politics, would become Finland’s next prime minister. More than a third of the electorate cast their ballots in advance voting and with most of those counted, the Centre Party was seen taking 47 of 200 seats in parliament, a projection by public radio and television YLE showed. The Social Democrats were seen taking 38 seats, Stubb’s conservative National Coalition Party 37 seats, and the rightwing eurosceptic Finns Party 33 seats.
From closer NATO ties to rumors of Kremlin-backed land deals on its border, Finland’s diplomatic balancing act with Russia has come under the spotlight before Sunday’s parliamentary election as politicians debate how far to challenge the Kremlin. The vote sees centrist opposition front-runner Juha Sipila, who favors military non-alignment along with two other major parties, battling center-right incumbent Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who advocates joining NATO. The debate was mirrored regionally after an unprecedented hawkish joint statement last week by Nordic countries – Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland – that directly cited the Russian “challenge” as grounds to increase defense cooperation.
Helsinki voters won’t be getting much free coffee this election season, after the city banned parties from handing it out in major marketplaces. The country goes to the polls on 19 April and it’s a popular tradition for campaigners to serve steaming cups of the beverage during events. But that’s now been stopped after complaints from nearby coffee shop owners, the national broadcaster Yle reports. “Our sales are impacted immediately if the same product can be obtained for free,” says Timo Taulavuori from the Tukkutori group, which oversees Helsinki’s marketplaces. “This is unfair towards those who make a living from selling coffee.” Finns are among the biggest coffee drinkers in the world, with per capita consumption of 1.8 cups per day, second only to The Netherlands.
With nearly 100% of the vote counted, National Coalition candidate Sauli Niinisto has won the second and decisive round of Finland’s presidential election. Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto conceded the race just before 9 PM. The win by the National Coalition’s Sauli Niinistö will bring to an end a 30-year era of Social Democratic Party presidents in Finland Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto conceded defeat in his bid for the presidency when about 80% of the vote had been counted and it was evident that Niinistö had polled over 60%. Despite a final spurt in Haavisto’s campaign, support simply did not grow enough to bring him a victory. Even so, Haavisto said he was satisfied with the count. “From the summer’s five percent it is a good rise. Over a million people gave me their backing.”
Polling stations opened across Finland Sunday for the second round of presidential vote, with conservative Sauli Niinistoe widely expected to triumph over green liberal challenger Pekka Haavisto. Voting began at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) and ends at at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) with final results expected around 2000 GMT on Sunday. The most recent public opinion poll, published Thursday, gave the National Coalition Party’s Niinistoe 62 percent support against 38 percent for the Green League’s Haavisto.
Finland: Pekka Haavisto triples presidential election budget – Niinistö also gets more money in second round | Helsingin Sanomat
Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto has received massive amounts of donations from supporters in the second round of Finland’s presidential elections. By Thursday evening Haavisto’s campaign budget had brown to more than EUR 710,000 – nearly three times higher than the EUR 250,000 reported for the first round. Olli Muurainen, chairman of the executive of Haavisto’s support group, Suomi-Finland 2012 said that most of the money is being spent on advertising. “In the last four days we will spend approximately as much on campaigning in the media that we have spent on the campaign so far”, Muurainen says.
Finland: Pekka Haavisto, Finnish Gay Presidential Candidate, To Face Off With Former Finance Minister In Race | Huffington Post
The conservative favorite easily won the first round of Finland’s presidential election Sunday, setting up a runoff against an environmentalist leader who is the first openly gay candidate to run for head of state in the Nordic country. Sauli Niinisto, a former finance minister, won 37 percent of the vote, well ahead of the other candidates but short of the majority needed to avoid a second round, official preliminary results showed. With all votes counted, Pekka Haavisto, of the Greens party, was second with 18.8 percent, securing his place in the Feb. 5 runoff.
The second round of Finland’s presidential election will be a battle between conservatives and liberals, with Finland’s political left unrepresented. YLE election pundit Ville Pernaa says that the next president is likely to be the candidate who best harnesses the working class vote that is now without a left-wing candidate to support. The left’s absence from the second round is unprecedented, with voters left without a straight left-right choice for the first time. ”There is not a pure bourgeois versus socialist configuration,” said Pernaa. “Now the battle is for the working class soul, in that neither Niinistö nor Haavisto is a candidate working class voters can relate to.”
The conservative favorite easily won the first round of Finland’s presidential election Sunday, setting up a runoff against an environmentalist leader who is the first openly gay candidate to run for head of state in the Nordic country.
Sauli Niinisto, a former finance minister, won 37 percent of the vote, well ahead of the other candidates but short of the majority needed to avoid a second round, official preliminary results showed. With all votes counted, Pekka Haavisto, of the Greens party, was second with 18.8 percent, securing his place in the Feb. 5 runoff.
Two pro-European candidates will face-off in the second round of the Finnish presidential election in two weeks’ time, quelling fears of the political establishment that the next stage would become an informal referendum on Europe. Sauli Niinistö, a pro-European former finance minister from the ruling National Coalition party, won 37 per cent of the vote on Sunday, as was widely expected. He is now the most likely candidate to become Finland’s 12th president since independence from Russia in 1917. Many in the pro-European coalition government had feared that Mr Niinistö could end up in a run-off against the eurosceptic Paavo Väyrynen from the Centre party, turning the second round into a straight fight between the county’s pro- and anti-Europe camps.
Finns trudged through thick snow and braved blizzards to vote for a new president on Sunday as polls indicated declining support for the front-runner, making a second round next month increasingly likely. Ex-finance minister Sauli Niinisto holds a clear lead in a field of eight candidates but surveys indicate he will not capture the required majority to win the first round. The vote comes as the Nordic country braces for cutbacks amid a European financial crisis that threatens the economy and the top credit rating of the eurozone member.
After 12 years at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, the first female president in Finland’s history is starting to pack up her things. Social Democrat Tarja Halonen has served the maximum two terms in office, and on Sunday the nation votes for a new president. On Saturday, the last day of campaigning, the candidates defied freezing temperatures and heaps of snow try to to win over the last few voters, CNN’s Finnish affiliate MTV3 reported. “I really liked Halonen. That is why it is so difficult to make up my mind. I liked her style, she was good” resident Merja Lindell told Swedish daily Expressen which is reporting on the Finnish election.
Finland: Publishing of poll results immediately before elections unlikely to be banned in Finland Experts would rather rely on self-regulation by media | Helsingin Sanomat
In the Tuesday presidential debate arranged by Helsingin Sanomat and the commercial television channel Nelonen, four Presidential candidates out of eight were of the opinion that gallup poll results should not be made public just before the election. The candidates complained that the gallup polls direct people’s voting behaviour and provide contradictory information. Addressing the situation by making changes to the country’s election laws seems unlikely, however, despite the fact that in certain European countries – France, for instance – this had been done. In Finland, too, putting restrictions in place on last-minute polls has been discussed, but such amendment preparations were never launched.
Finnish voters look set to elect veteran conservative Sauli Niinisto as their next president as anti-euro sentiment takes a backseat to economic concerns. The former finance minister from the National Coalition party, with around 40 percent support in polls, is clear favourite for the January 22 election.
After the highly eurosceptic Finns Party emerged from obscurity to become the main opposition in April’s general election – on a campaign opposing EU bailouts – some expected its leader Timo Soini to be a formidable presidential candidate. But Soini is trailing with under 10 percent, according to latest media surveys, putting him behind at least one other presidential hopeful, Centre Party veteran Paavo Vayrynen. If none of the eight candidates gets more than half the votes a run-off between the top two follows two weeks later.