A spying state may be interested in political or economic information

Policymaking and businesses that develop high-tech products are targets of foreign espionage.

Illustration - people sitting on a park lawn.

The range of individuals who may be targets of espionage is broader than often recognised. Targets may include any organisation with information that is of interest to a spying state, or with the ability to influence policymaking.

Espionage provides information on policymaking

The most typical intelligence acquired through espionage concerns the foreign, domestic and security policymaking of the target country and the preparing of political positions. For an example, foreign intelligence services are interested in Arctic region issues and cyber security. Information is obtained from the places where it is handled.

Besides public authorities, these places may include the businesses that provide their information systems and other external services.

Business R&D intelligence is a target of foreign espionage

Businesses that develop high-tech products are another important espionage target, or the target may be the provider of an outsourced data system service.

Businesses operating in a traditional sector may also be a target for some developing country that is seeking to reduce the technological lead of Western countries. Research institutes involved in industrial R&D projects can also be targeted.

Critical infrastructure is an espionage target

The public administration organisations and businesses that maintain and build critical infrastructure, such as energy supplies, telecommunication networks and water utilities, are potential targets for state-sponsored espionage.

Details of the structure and security arrangements of infrastructure are of interest to states that seek to influence its operation, or even to paralyse the entire infrastructure during a crisis.

Intelligence of indirect usefulness is also sought.

Besides classified documents proper, state-sponsored espionage operations seek indirect intelligence that can be used for accessing confidential information.

Intelligence of this kind in an organisation includes staff contact details and roles, collaboration networks and subcontracting chains, data access credentials and IT system security arrangements.

Refugee espionage infringes the fundamental rights of residents in Finland

The intelligence services of certain countries monitor and harass some people living in Finland. Such refugee espionage operations typically target individuals who have been classified as political opponents in their countries of origin, or who belong to a particular ethnic minority.