Beijing-Linked Hacking Group Behind Attack on Finnish Parliament, Chinese Students May be Spies

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Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, known by the abbreviation Supo, recently revealed that hacker group APT31 was possibly responsible for the country's Parliament's IT networks' cyberattack during autumn 2020.

Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, known by the abbreviation Supo, recently revealed that hacker group APT31 was possibly responsible for the country’s Parliament’s IT networks’ cyberattack during autumn 2020.

The group, which is said to have ties to the Chinese communist regime, wanted to hack into the Parliament’s IT systems. However, the agency did not mention China by name or indicate APT31’s connection to Beijing.

“Supo provided the Parliament with information that enabled the Parliament to identify possible further break-in attempts. The Parliament followed the instructions it had received and further strengthened its information security. Besides warning the Parliament, Supo also provided information to the National Cyber Security Centre Finland (NCSC-FI), which is the national cybersecurity authority, to improve NCSC-FI monitoring capabilities,” Supo said in a press release.

Following the incident, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) began investigating the Finnish legislature’s information system’s cyberattack. Among compromised data were the email accounts of some lawmakers. Security systems at the Parliament have been upgraded since the attack. 

Tero Muurman, who is in charge of the investigation at NBI, said that they were looking at Supo’s allegations against APT31. He stated the hack conducted was to access information on behalf of a state or harm the country.

One of the main reasons China seems to be highly interested in a Nordic nation like Finland is likely the Arctic issue. Finnish public broadcaster YLE recently reported that the Polar Research Institute of China, funded by the Chinese regime, had tried to lease or buy an airport in Finland’s Arctic region in 2018. 

The Chinese wanted to use it for research flights to the Arctic areas. The Finnish military blocked the attempt to secure the airport since it is located close to a military region.

Finland Oulu Airport Image: pixabay/lCC0.1.0

Last month, Supo head Antti Pelttari had warned that authoritarian states such as China and Russia are trying to gain control over Finland’s critical infrastructure like telecommunications, airports, energy, roads, water distribution, etc. He pointed out that China has openly shown interest in becoming a global superpower, meaning that the communist regime might also seek to influence or dominate other nations.

It appears correct in the case of the Netherlands. Intelligence services like AIVD, NCTV, and MIVD have issued a threat assessment report stating that the country is not only being targeted for cyberattacks from the Chinese regime. It appears that many of the Chinese students, researchers, and Ph.D. candidates studying in the country might also be potential CCP spies. The report warned that collaborating with China will negatively affect the Netherlands’ prosperity and security in multiple ways.

The Chinese regime’s espionage in the Baltics

The Chinese regime targets Europe’s Baltic region for espionage and influence purposes. Lithuania recently banned Chinese tech company Nuctech from doing business in its airports. The firm made a software security inspection, and the company was classified as a potential security threat by cyber defense forces and intelligence services. 

“Using equipment and technologies of Russian or Chinese origin in sensitive sectors poses both short and long-term threats… The decision to ban Nuctech is a step towards our strategic goal—freedom from unreliable technology suppliers and elimination of possible security risks before the damage is done,” Lithuania’s deputy defense minister, Margiris Abukevicius, told EUobserver.

  • Arvind is a recluse who prefers staying far away from the limelight as possible. Be that as it may, he keeps a close eye on what's happening and reports on it to keep people rightly informed.