Front Page: NCSC-FI
Front Page: NCSC-FI

Information security now!

The year 2024 will be a major election year both in Finland and around the world. Preparing for the presidential election and the European elections entails long-term work by several different operators, from ministries and agencies all the way to the level of municipalities and individual polling stations. Although international tensions may cause concern among citizens, the Finnish election system is stable and secure.

The first round of the Finnish presidential election will culminate on the evening of Sunday 28 January 2024 when polling stations close, the result of the advance voting is published and the counting of the election day votes begins. Citizens follow the votes being counted and the election result being determined on television, radio and various online services, such as the news websites of media companies. Social media fills up with comments and publications related to the election. Analyses are performed, and Finns are provided with continuously updated information on the progress of the counting. Interviews with candidates and experts are available on different channels throughout the evening. Citizens are able to follow this important tradition of our democratic society on their smart devices wherever they happen to be at the time: in their living rooms and workplaces, on their holidays or even while shovelling snow. 

The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE recently reported (External link)on a study showing that Finnish people are concerned about cyber attacks and data breaches. Finland has always been able to hold reliable elections, and the Finnish election system is stable and secure. The voting conducted with ballot papers cannot be easily interfered with by attacks on information systems. Similarly, the reliability of counting the votes by hand cannot be influenced by cyber attacks. Nonetheless, it is good to highlight some scenarios, mainly to do with information influence activities, that we may encounter in connection with the elections.


Denial-of-service attacks on services related to election communications and the publication of election results

In certain cases, denial-of-service attacks could cause e.g. momentary interruptions to showing the result situation to a section of citizens. However, denial-of-service attacks are unable to impact the actual election result and its reliability. Denial-of-service attacks on Finnish online services are an everyday occurrence to service providers and occasionally result in the service working very slowly or being interrupted. Precautions have been taken against denial-of-service attacks in the context of elections as well.

Read more about denial-of-service attacks here:


Disinformation on candidates on fake websites, fake news sites or social media

The publication of unfounded information can aim to influence the election success of an individual candidate or to hinder the candidates’ communications on social media. Source criticism is vital. You should exercise healthy scepticism in situations where particularly remarkable or incredible claims are published about a candidate right before the election date. Do not share false content, but aim to verify the information and find out more first. 

Read more about how to identify information influence activities here .


Deepfake technology

The above-mentioned spreading of disinformation can be further amplified by using so-called deepfake videos and audio recordings to create the impression that a candidate has done or said something that puts them in a bad light among voters. 

An example of the use of a deepfake in connection with the Slovakian parliamentary elections (YLE). (External link)

Also watch the video by Traficom’s NCSC-FI: ‘Deepfake: how deepfakes amplify cybercrime and information influence activities’ (in Finnish):


Deepfake: how deepfakes amplify cybercrime and information influence activities (in Finnish)

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You can watch the video here:

It should be noted that this year will be a ‘super year’ of elections, as elections will take place in at least 60 countries around the world. In early summer, new members of the European Parliament are selected in European elections held simultaneously in all EU countries. The five-year term of the UK Parliament will also come to an end in December at the latest, and the elections are likely to be held this year as well. In the spring, India with its population of 1.4 billion people will hold its parliamentary elections. In addition to Finland, presidential elections will be held e.g. in the United States and in Russia, and Taiwan was among the first to kick off the global election year by electing a new president on 13 January. Many of these elections hold major international significance, and it may well be that the Finnish presidential election is not first on the list of any state planning to use its time and resources on election interference. The globally busy election year will also pose challenges to social media platforms that should rein in disinformation and election interference while adapting to the opportunities and threats posed by new AI solutions.

For several years now, Traficom’s NCSC-FI has participated in supporting the Ministry of Justice and other election officials in preparing for national elections. In its simplest form, cooperation means conversation. When specialists with different areas of expertise work together, the authorities are able to utilise views from outside their own administrative branch and area of responsibility. Going through different possible scenarios with people from different backgrounds allows authorities to identify bottlenecks, stumbling blocks and broken telephones in advance. Only encountering them first when a disturbance or incident requires rapid action and smooth communications would be frustrating. Finland’s strength lies in the cross-administrative desire to act for the good of Finnish society. The long tradition of working together increases trust and facilitates taking care of shared issues. The smooth and secure implementation of national elections is a good example of an undertaking involving many different authorities. In general, it can be noted that Finland’s preparedness for different threats is at a high level.