Facing a wider range of threats in 2018

2019-03-14

The threats Sweden is facing are wider and different in nature than a few years ago. This has increased the importance of protecting the nation’s most critical assets, and remaining shortcomings in this respect need to be addressed. This situation is described in the Swedish Security Service’s 2018 Yearbook, published on 14 March.

To achieve their security policy objectives, foreign powers seeking to influence Sweden engage in grey area activities, without provoking military conflict. In the Yearbook, the Security Service states that influence operations, strategic acquisitions and electronic attacks are some of the methods used.

“In the past few years we have seen that Russia in particular has improved its ability to actively and covertly influence other states. This makes in necessary to enhance the ability of the Security Service and other agencies tasked with combating crime and other grey area activities”, says Klas Friberg, Head of the Swedish Security Service.

Shortcomings in protective security remain

Sweden’s most critical assets must be protected against the increasing intelligence threat. Although protective security has improved, there are still shortcomings. This is evident from the Security Service’s follow-up on a protective security survey of some 100 public agencies.

“The Security Service welcomes the new Protective Security Act which will come into effect on 1 April. The Act places stringent demands on the protective security efforts of public agencies and companies. This is vital, not least now that we are rebuilding our total defence capability”, Klas Friberg says.

Protecting the elections

For the Security Service, the general elections and the ensuing government formation was another priority in 2018. The Service’s remit included ensuring that politicians could carry out their tasks safely and securely, as well as protecting the elections from influence from foreign powers and reducing vulnerabilities in public agencies involved in the elections.

“No extensive influence campaigns aiming at influencing the Swedish elections took place. Our efforts have hugely improved the Security Service’s picture of how, and with what tools and objectives foreign powers conduct influence operations in Sweden”, Klas Friberg says.

Not only attack threats

There are three extremist movements in Sweden that aim to overturn the social order. In terms of attacks, the violence-promoting Islamist movement still poses the most serious threat. Besides this, there is also a more long-term threat from the white power movement and the autonomous movement. This involves the systematic use of violence, threats and intimidation in order to overthrow or change Sweden’s democratic form of government.

In the Yearbook, the Security Service states that the activities of the extremist movements have changed over the past few years.

“A xenophobic and radical nationalist current is on the rise in Sweden, where we can see that the white power movement and unorganised xenophobic groups are starting to approach each other. The Security Service is closely monitoring these developments as part of our remit to prevent crime and protect Swedish democracy”, says Klas Friberg.

An English translation of the 2018 Yearbook will be published later this spring.