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Sweden takes steps to tackle foreign spying

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Sweden takes steps to tackle foreign spying
Photo: Gunnar Lundmark/SvD/Scanpix
10:29 CET+01:00
The Swedish Armed Forces is busy tightening its defences against overseas cyber intrusion, reporting that several state agencies have been subject to attacks over the past year.

Swedish authorities are working on their cyber defences in a bid to keep out prying eyes and a new set of internet use guidelines is set to be framed for the members of the Swedish parliament, according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

"We are upgrading the system and adapting it to the threats. Ignorance could lead to the information falling into the wrong hands," Mattias Hanson at the Armed Forces intelligence service Must told the newspaper.

The Swedish intelligence authorities, particularly the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA), have come in for criticism in recent months following revelations of cooperation with the UK intelligence agency GCHQ and the US.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has defended much-criticized surveillance practices and stated that the Swedish police and security services operate within the Swedish law and in line with Swedish interests.

"Today, we face a world of more diverse risks, challenges and threats. Constant knowledge of these important for security of the nation," Bildt said via Twitter on Saturday, citing Cold War surveillance of the USSR and WWII monitoring of German communications as examples.

But while Bildt has been frank about the benefits of keeping a check on foreign powers, Sweden is working hard to defend itself. FRA and the Security Service (Säkerhetspolisen - Säpo) are currently engaged in a project to develop a cooperation in the battle against cyber espionage, SvD reported.

According to Must, the main issues of interest to foreign agencies are military and civil high technology.

One of the reasons why cyber espionage has increased dramatically in recent years is simply that it is easier. Foreign agents are no longer required to leave the comfort and safety of their own territories in order to gather information.

The Riksdag is set to review guidelines to members of parliament in order to bring them up to date with, for example, the widespread use of Twitter.

"Twitter is a service that relatively many MPs use daily. Here the guidelines are probably at odds with reality," said Anne-Marie Eklund-Löwinder at The Internet Infrastructure Foundation (Stiftelsen för internetinfrasktrutur - .SE) to SvD.

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