Finnish govt websites knocked down as Ukraine President addresses MPs

Online attacks follow suspected airspace violation by Russian aircraft


Cyberattacks took down Finnish government websites on Friday while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Finland's members of parliament (MPs).

Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks hit Finland's ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs' websites around noon local time. About an hour later, both government agencies tweeted that the websites were back up and running.

The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed its support for Ukraine following Zelenskyy address: 

Finland firmly supports Ukraine in its efforts to defend freedom and democracy. #StandWithUkraine

Earlier that morning, before the cyberattacks, a Russian passenger jet was suspected of violating Finnish airspace. The apparent incursion by the IL-96-300 aircraft occurred off the coast of the Gulf of Finland near the city of Porvoo and lasted about three minutes, according to the Ministry of Defense. 

The aggressive cyber and airspace violations come as Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, is expected to submit an application to join NATO. Finland has traditionally been neutral, while maintaining mandatory national military service for men, but has been moving closer to NATO - particularly in recent months.

​​NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday told CNBC that the alliance would "warmly welcome" Finland into the fold should it proceed. 

Russia, however, has strongly opposed the proposal, and a Russian lawmaker this week warned that joining NATO would be a "strategic mistake" for the Nordic nation. Then again, Russia has a lot of experience with strategic mistakes in Finland, not to mention the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

As was widely reported by several media outlets, Russian politician Vladimir Dzhabarov, a member of the country's upper house, the Federation Council, issued a not-so-veiled threat of violence should Finland pursue membership.

Despite that country's ties with Russia, if Finland joined NATO "it would become a target," Dzhabarov said. "I think it [would be] a terrible tragedy for the entire Finnish people," he added, which makes the airspace breach and the cyberattacks sound more like warning shots.

To be clear: Finland has not blamed Russia for taking the websites offline during Zelenskyy's address to its Parliament.

​​According to Check Point Research's latest numbers, one month into the war, both Russia and Ukraine have seen an increase in cyberattacks. Russia experienced a 10 percent jump while Ukraine saw a 17 percent increase, according to the security shop. 

Globally, the threat researchers documented a 16 percent increase in cyberattacks since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia began at the end of February. That reflects an 18 percent jump in weekly attacks in Europe, and a 16 percent increase in the Asia-Pacific region. In North America, the average weekly attacks per organization is 14 percent higher than before the war started. ®


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