Finnish tax administration strengthens cyber security capabilities

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Finland’s tax administration has signed a partnership with Finnish security company Nixu to improve its readiness to tackle cyber threats.

The move goes hand in hand with the organisation’s initiatives to introduce more digital services. “We have recognised the need to further develop our cyber security monitoring and reaction competences to support these new services,” said Samuli Bergström, chief security officer at the tax administration.

Under the deal, the tax agency will deploy Nixu’s Cyber Defence Centre (CDC) service package, which includes tools for monitoring, detecting, addressing and preventing security incidents, as well as services for the investigation and aftercare of cyber crime.

According to Nixu, the CDC provides 24/7 monitoring of the tax administration’s IT environment. If any actual or potential security incidents are detected, the service launches agreed investigation and prevention measures. These are planned in cooperation with the tax agency and its other suppliers.

“We have not previously had a round-the-clock information security monitoring centre, so we are building new capabilities here,” said Bergström.

The tax administration has previously worked with Nixu on multiple cyber security-related projects, but the latest partnership was formed after a public tendering process concluded in spring 2017. The value of the agreement has not been disclosed.

Deployment of the CDC is currently under way, but the service is not yet operational.

Digitisation and information security are high priorities for Finland’s tax administration, which handles 60 million data transactions a year and almost 95% of all the country’s taxes. The agency made the news headlines in early September when its name was used in spam emails disguised as tax returns, phishing for taxpayers’s bank card and account details.

“With increased digitisation, the risks related to cyber security naturally grows,” said Bergström. “The tax administration is not a separate island, but any threats targeted at the public administration and the financial sector also affect us. We are actively trying to improve our readiness for these kinds of threats.”

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