Counterintelligence combats the unlawful intelligence operations of foreign powers

Counterintelligence defends Finland against the espionage and influence operations of foreign powers. This is one of the key functions of Supo.

 Illustration - a red wall and a blue sky featuring a silhouette of a crane.

Relative to the size of the country, a fairly large number of foreign intelligence operatives are stationed in Finland. Several dozen foreign intelligence officers are permanently stationed in Finland, and foreign intelligence organisation staff members also engage in brief operational assignments in Finland every year. Finland is a target of particular intelligence interest to Russia and China.

The intelligence operations of foreign powers seek in particular to anticipate various aspects of policy in Finland, and to influence the policymaking process. Finland is also of interest because of its state-of-the-art technology. Spies are especially interested in emerging disciplines and new technologies.

Traditional espionage has not lost its relevance

Intelligence services employ a wide array of intelligence gathering instruments and methods to access useful information, ranging from monitoring of open sources to unauthorised intrusion into data networks.

Technological progress has opened up new opportunities for extracting secret or confidential intelligence from data networks and hardware. The traditional methods of human intelligence spying nevertheless remain relevant, with intelligence services seeking to recruit individuals who can assist in accessing desired information.

Unlawful intelligence gathering is systematic and often sustained over very long periods. While no changes are expected in the threat posed to Finland by foreign intelligence and influencing operations, they will continue on a large scale.

It is likely that the deterioration of superpower relations, growing global and regional uncertainties, and rising political tensions internationally will increase the need for authoritarian states to engage in covert intelligence gathering and influencing.

Supo seeks early measures to ward off schemes that jeopardise national security

Supo's duty is to prevent classified information from falling into the hands of foreign powers and ward off influencing against Finnish interests.  Supo continually monitors the operations of foreign intelligence services in Finland, seeking to disclose, intervene in, and prevent foreign espionage. Supo is seeking to disrupt any activities that are harmful to the Finnish State or business community at the earliest possible stage.

Supo expertise is required, for example, when Finnish government or business representatives suspect that they have come into contact with a representative of some foreign intelligence service.