Nordic governments have greenlighted deeper collaboration within the cyber defense strategies and response domain between the militaries of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

The strengthening of interstate cyber defense and security is being tasked to the Nordic Defense Cooperation, or NORDEFCO, the primary vehicle for joint military collaboration between the Nordic armed forces.

The primary objective for a unified approach among Nordic countries is to develop more effective joint cyber defense capabilities based on enhanced information sharing, identifying best-practice computer emergency responses and more regular cybersecurity based defense exercises.

NORDEFCO has already run a number of preliminary cyber-defense collaboration projects. These have included identifying possible legal and unidentified barriers to deepening collaboration among Nordic militaries.

A fundamental area of investigation, within the framework of joint collaboration, will be to analyze the cost benefits and operational gains from cooperation relating to immediate threat warnings in the cyber domain.

Within NORDEFCO, Finland has taken the lead role to develop Computer Emergency Response Team capabilities that have the capacity to better protect Nordic defense IT, core force systems and critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The deepening of Nordic collaboration is running parallel to increasing defense and hybrid threat cybersecurity investments by governments in all four countries.

Finland established the Helsinki-headquartered European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), which commenced operations Oct. 3, to develop advanced solutions that improve civil-military capabilities, resilience and preparedness to counter hybrid threats with a special focus on European security.

“Hybrid threats have become a permanent part of the Finnish and European security environment. The Helsinki Center will respond to this current challenge,” said Jori Arvonen, chair of the Hybrid CoE’s Steering Committee.

The Hybrid CoE will collaborate with NORDDEFCO and NATO, as well as national and military cyber-defense units across the Nordic countries.

Finland has also launched a joint cyber research project in partnership with the United States. The initiative comprises a new Cyber Research Institute located in Oulu, Northern Finland. The U.S. partner is the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Industry University Cooperative Research Center program.

The Finnish-U.S. cybersecurity research cooperation project will be largely funded using capital injections from the state-owned Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

For its part, Norway has launched an international cyber strategy to confront and manage hybrid digital security challenges and vulnerabilities. The integrated strategy aims to harness military, civil defense and international expertise to develop systems that enhance protection of critical infrastructure from threats emanating from cyberspace.

The expanding role of cyber defense within Nordic Armed Forces is also reflected in larger capital spending in military budgets for 2018.

Sweden has increased spending on the Armed Force’s cyber defense budget by $12 million in 2018. This extra spending will be routed to different cyber defense and counter-terrorism programs run by the National Defense Radio Establishment, the Armed Force’s signals intelligence section, as well as the Military Intelligence Unit and the national security service agency MUST.

Gerard O'Dwyer reported on Scandinavian affairs for Defense News.

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