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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Finnish government acknowledges major data breach

The Finnish government recently acknowledged that it had suffered a severe data breach, one which involved years of unauthorized access to sensitive files and records.

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The Finnish government recently acknowledged that it had suffered a severe data breach, one which involved years of unauthorized access to sensitive files and records.

According to reports, the illicit data access was first achieved four years ago, and was only discovered this past spring, at which point the attack was halted.

The Finnish government released a statement, acknowledging the breach and asserting that the exposed data was "of the lowest classification level," with the more sensitive information remaining safe through this period. While some observers claimed that Russian or Chinese intelligence agencies were likely behind the cyberattack, the statement indicated that "[a]t this stage it is impossible to verify whether government or private bodies are behind the violations."

Speaking to MTV3, Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen admitted that the Finnish government fell short in terms of its data protection efforts.

"We have a cybersecurity strategy of how to improve things. It takes some time," said Katainen, according to the news source. "We try to be ahead, and to get ahead, but in this case we weren't."

As more details of the breach come to light, it will become clearer precisely what information was stolen and how serious the consequences are likely to be.

Security for all
This incident is noteworthy for several reasons. First of all, the simple fact that the Finnish government was successfully breached should serve as a reminder that even presumably well-protected organizations may fall victim to cyberattacks or inadvertent data breaches. No organization, regardless of its level of cybersecurity, should ever feel totally confident that its sensitive information will remain safe no matter what.

Secondly, it is important to note that this breach was not discovered for approximately four years. For that entire, long stretch of time, the cyberattackers had nearly unfettered access to whichever databases they managed to penetrate. Keeping in mind the length of the breach, the amount of information stolen is almost certainly massive.

Considering these elements, this data breach should serve as a reminder to organizations of all sizes and industries that they need to invest in high-end data protection measures in order to minimize the risk that cyberattackers are able to gain access to invaluable client information or intellectual property.

To this end, proactive tools, such as secure file transfer solutions, are critical. These solutions make sure that data does not become vulnerable while being distributed throughout the company, thereby greatly improving the firm's overall data security.