‘More spying than during Cold War’
February 4, 2010
The head of Norwegian intelligence agency PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Thursday that foreign countries are “spying more on us now than during the Cold War.” Janne Kristiansen, who took over the top PST post last fall, and her colleagues in other state security agencies are on guard and consider the spying a major threat.
“There’s a lot of interest in Norway,” Kristiansen told NRK. The nature of the top PST job calls normally calls for secrecy, but Kristiansen clearly wants to warn Norwegian private businesses, politicians and government agencies of the jump in spying activity.
PST information, according to NRK, indicates the spying is mostly directed against political leaders in positions of power, the military and private companies. The spies reportedly want access to high technology, confidential NATO information and background into important decision-making.
Kristiansen, a highly regarded defense attorney before taking on the PST job, wouldn’t say which countries are involved in the spying activity. She noted, however, that “distances have become shorter between countries, and new countries are coming forward.”
Officials at Norway’s national security agency (NSM, Nasjonal sikkerhetsmyndighet) have reported a big jump in dataangrep (computer attacks) on the systems of companies and public institutions. NSM watches Internet traffic closely to try to ward off attacks.
Christophe Birkeland, a division director at NSM, said direct attacks are made to enter computer systems and steal information stored on them. “The biggest threat we face today is the threat tied to spying,” he said. Newspaper Aftenposten has reported nearly 5,000 such attacks in the last year, up 55 percent from the year before.
The Defense Ministry’s own security agency reports being attacked every day. “We have indications that foreign powers are behind these attacks,” Major Ivar Kjærem told NRK.