Sweden’s security is being challenged – the threat remains elevated

Published 30 March 2022

Sweden’s security is being challenged on several fronts. We are facing a wider and rapidly changing threat from hostile states and violent extremism, a threat that has therefore become more complex. This is stated in the 2021 Swedish Security Service Yearbook.

This complex threat is manifested in frequent activities and attacks, legal and illegal, targeting individuals as well as Sweden itself. The threat actors are prepared to go to extreme lengths to achieve their goals.

- Sweden is under pressure. The Swedish Security Service can see how other countries are acting increasingly aggressively, trying to gain advantages to strengthen their position. This has an impact on Sweden’s economy, political decision-making, democratic rights and freedoms, and territorial sovereignty, says Charlotte von Essen, Head of the Swedish Security Service.

The 2021 Swedish Security Service Yearbook describes the current threat to Sweden. The Service notes that there is still an elevated threat posed by hostile states, as has been the case for many years now. In addition to this, violent extremists pose an attack threat as well as a threat to Swedish democracy. The Service can also see that extremism is gaining ground, and new actors constantly appear in its information flow.

- Digital platforms facilitate participation by underage individuals in violent extremism. An increasing number of young individuals are attracted primarily by online-based right-wing extremism. In the Service’s assessment, the number of minors having both the intent and the capability to engage in terrorist-related crime is increasing, says Charlotte von Essen.

Constantly ongoing cyber attacks aimed at Swedish targets are a serious threat to Sweden. The purpose of such attacks is to steal information, conduct influence operations, and to prepare for or carry out malicious attacks.

The security situation in Europe has deteriorated considerably following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This will affect Sweden’s security for many years to come, and increases the importance of well-functioning total defence.

- The security situation at hand increases hostile states’ need for information, and thereby their need for intelligence gathering. There is also an increased risk of cyber attacks. Our Service has therefore intensified efforts to reduce the scope of action of hostile states and strengthen the resilience of critical assets. We have to make it difficult to be a spy in Sweden, says Charlotte von Essen.

The changed threat is targeting the very cornerstones of our society, and Sweden needs to consider this when building a solid national defence. Well-functioning protective security lays the foundation for total defence.

- Building national security is a collective effort. In order to reduce the threat posed by foreign powers and violent extremism, our entire society, across all policy areas concerned, needs to contribute. Government agencies, trade and industry, and society in general must work together to increase our country’s resilience, says Charlotte von Essen.


 30 March 2022

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