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Podcast – Finland’s fight against Russian cyber attacks

Podcast – Finland’s fight against Russian cyber attacks
Fake news and cyber attacks are helping undermine democracy, legitimise extremist views, push groundless conspiracy theories and provide cover for propaganda by rich individuals and states. But one country is fighting back. And winning.
A study by the European Policies Initiative puts Finland top of 35 countries in ‘post-truth’ resilience. Denmark was second and Sweden fourth. The UK was 10th. What’s their secret?
Jussi Toivanen is a former adviser to the Finnish PM on media literacy and was recently appointed Head of Communications at Finland’s National Cyber Security Centre. He’s the main speaker in this podcast, produced from an online NH meeting in October 2022. We also hear from Chris Silver – a researcher and PhD student on memory and the Scottish press – and Claire Elazebbi, a member of the Scottish Government’s cyber security team.

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Finland has a particular source of propaganda to deal with in the shape of Russia. Misinformation attacks have focused on familiar issues like immigration and the EU, but also Finland’s application to join NATO. Now the Finns have devised a strategy to teach all social groups to spot fake news and fact-check. This includes lessons in community colleges, digital literacy toolkits and a critical thinking curriculum in schools. As a result, online interference by Russia in Finnish politics appears to have waned.
Now other countries are looking to learn from Finland’s strategy. But for highly unequal societies like the UK, it may be a tough act to follow.
Jussi Toivanen believes the country’s cyber security success is due to being a cohesive society with high levels of trust in institutions and the media, and a strong sense of identity rooted in human rights and the rule of law, in which ‘the first line of defence is the Kindergarten teacher.’

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