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What do Finnish first graders, business leaders, and the Ministry of Defence have in common?

They’re all intimately involved in Finland’s cyber security strategy.

Each child must be trained to surf the Internet and analyze texts critically, while business leaders must protect their brand and reputation—and data—from possible cyber threats. The government must oversee coordination between the whole of society. Each citizen has a role to play.

Aapo Cederberg, C.E.O. of Cyberwatch, who spearheaded Finland’s cyber security strategy plan (pictured above on the right, with UK Ambassador Tom Dodd), sat down to talk to us about the three main topics to bear in mind in terms of cyber threats and the future of national security.

First, an educated society is the best resilience to cyber warfare. Deterrence used to be the foundation of national security. With cyber warfare, this is no longer the case. We often see the results of being attacked, but can’t quite pinpoint when, where and how the attack took place. It’s death by a thousand cuts.

Cyber attackers are like the guerilla fighters of the past: they go for the easiest target with maximum impact, hit fast and then disappear. If employees are educated about these tactics and school children are taught to think critically, the ‘easy targets’ becomes much more formidable.

Second, through the manipulation of information, chaos can spread through a society while the threshold to war is never crossed. It’s like an autoimmune disease: the manipulation of information doesn’t hurt you as much as you hurt yourself through one side attacking the other.

Third, 80% of cyber-attacks have civilian targets. The police and military have traditionally been there to keep us safe, but cyber-attacks have changed that. Instead, it’s the whole of society working together that builds security and we must protect ourselves and one another. Enterprise often leads the way in developing sound tactics.

Aapo Cederberg is the foremost Finnish expert on cyber security and, despite the Finnish saying tieto lisää tuskaa (‘with knowledge comes agony’), he comes across as upbeat and optimistic. Part of this, he says, is because Finland is a small and agile country and can quickly adapt to combat new threats. However, more strategic awareness of the developments in the cyber world is needed among political and business leaders, he stresses.

What needs to be done is enhancing the cooperation between government, business leaders and all civil society—from first-graders right up to CEOs.

Education is key. Ensure that your employees (and children) know the threats and can think critically.

Security starts with each of us.

For more on Amcham Finland’s work on cyber security, contact Nina Hyvärinen here.