Great efforts are needed to reduce the gap between threats and security


The current intelligence threat to Sweden is more comprehensive than it has been in several years. Extensive efforts are necessary to reduce the vulnerabilities associated with critical assets.

- The intelligence threat to our country is characterised by both its breadth and depth. Sweden is one of the most digitalised countries in the world but there are weaknesses in the security measures taken by many companies and agencies. As a result, there is a growing gap between threats and security, which is being taken advantage of by state actors, says Klas Friberg, Head of the Swedish Security Service.

State actors are constantly seeking to gather sensitive information, using traditional methods as well as cyber espionage and signals intelligence.

Their interest could concern sensitive information with a bearing on national security, business secrets or personal information. The information could be used to obstruct the operation of important systems or it could be kept for future use.

- To counter the intelligence threat, it is necessary to reduce existing vulnerabilities. This is a responsibility for society as a whole and should be given higher priority by all involved parties, says Mr Friberg.

A new protective security act will come into force on 1 April 2019, placing high demands on anyone involved in security-sensitive activities and increasing the possibility of preventing vulnerabilities.

The Head of the Security Service recently participated in the annual Folk och Försvar (Society and Defence) national conference in Sälen, where he spoke on the importance of allocating sufficient time and money to protective security measures.

- The effectiveness of this work cannot solely be measured in financial terms but should also be considered in terms of better and more efficient protective security measures.
As a means to improve cyber security, the Security Service, the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA), the Armed Forces and the Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) have decided to step up their cooperation.

Elevated threat level remains

In addition to the intelligence threat, the terrorist threat remains at an elevated level.

- The terrorist threat level remains elevated, level three on a five-level scale. This indicates that a terrorist attack is possible. I made this decision in early January, based on the assessment conducted by the National Centre for Terrorist Threat Assessment, NCT, says Mr Friberg.

Violence-promoting Islamist extremism currently poses the most significant threat to Sweden.

- To meet the terrorist threat, the Security Service will work even more strategically to limit the growth of extremist environments. This may include taking individuals posing a security threat into custody, or it may involve increasing our cooperation with other agencies with a view to bringing these individuals to justice for other types of crime - or ensuring that their activities are curtailed.

Mr Friberg further emphasised the importance of well-functioning and modern legislation for protecting national security, including for instance retention of communications data, equipment interference and the possibility to use Swedish signals intelligence for intelligence purposes, even when criminal investigations have already been initiated.

On 15 January 2019, Mr Friberg and Gunnar Karlson, Head of the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST), gave a joint presentation at the Folk och Försvar conference entitled “Hoten mot Sverige – internationella drivkrafter och nationella konsekvenser” (“The threats to Sweden - international driving forces and national consequences”).