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    Finland Debuts Hybrid Threat Ambassador Amid Vulnerability Reports

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    The nation's first ever official of this kind is tasked with countering threats targeting information networks. His appointment is seen as a complement to the EU-NATO hybrid threat center launched in Helsinki in late 2017. Despite the extensive measures taken, a recent report highlighted the nation's vulnerability.

    The Finnish Foreign Ministry has announced the appointment of the country's first hybrid threat ambassador. According to the ministry's press-release, the purpose of the new ambassador is to strengthen the ministry's work in the area of hybrid threats and to help enhance Finland's profile in the international arena. The role also seeks to advance efforts to identify and counteract hybrid influences. The ambassador will also cooperate closely with different officials in Finland, the ministry said in the press-release.

    Hybrid warfare and the use of influence-seeking hybrid methods have attracted wide international attention both in Finland and internationally. Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini described hybrid methods as "a new way of seeking to influence Finland's security," calling for an effective response.

    Mikko Kinnunen, Finland's newly appointed hybrid threat ambassador, described his field of responsibility saying "hybrid issues can be related to foreign and security policy, legal and commercial matters, strategic communications, also international cyber security cooperation," summarizing it as "any or all of the activities that the Ministry and its missions abroad are engaged in."

    READ MORE: Norway and US Busted Hacking Russian Networks to Gain Data on Leadership

    According to the press-release, Kinnunen will work in close cooperation with different authorities in Finland and support their involvement in international cooperation. The European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which was established in Helsinki last year, is therefore seen as a natural partner for the new ambassador. The EU-NATO center was launched in October 2017 in Helsinki and in addition to a plethora of NATO members, features formally non-aligned Sweden and Finland. Furthermore, similar centers exist in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, whereas NATO as a whole has two dozen accredited centers of excellence. The center in Helsinki is nevertheless the first of its kind to link the military alliance with the auspices of the EU.

    ​Mikko Kinnunen has extensive experience of security policy and matters related to Russia and the former Soviet Union. He has served as Finland's Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and worked in the Embassies of Finland in Moscow and Washington and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN in New York. Previously, Kinnunen has served as the director of the Foreign Ministry's unit for security policy and crisis management.

    READ MORE: Finland Launches Anti-Hybrid Warfare Center to Fight 'Imaginary Russians'

    The Finnish Foreign Ministry has also had a special cyber threat ambassador since 2014, again becoming one of the first nations to do so. The ambassador's duties include countering threats targeting information networks and key infrastructure.

    Nevertheless, a recent government report highlighted the lack of a central body with strategic responsibility to coordinate the nation's defenses in the wake of a major cyber-attack. A wave of cyber-attacks, a so called cyber tsunami, was identified as possibly having a crippling effect on power grids, banks and even healthcare services in Finland, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.


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