How to improve the Swedish cyber defence

Despite peace, Sweden is constantly being subjected to attacks, notably cyber attacks.

The Swedish cyber defence is all about keeping a constant eye on the technology development and act quickly when new susceptibilities arise.


We have a very good technological level with both authorities and businesses. But this does not automatically mean that the cyber security is good.

This comes from the major-general Fredrik Robertsson, Chief Information Officer at the

Chief Information Officer at the Swedish Armed Forces

Swedish Armed Forces, responsible for the Swedish cyber defence.

Fredrik Robertsson sees a need to focus more on both the physical measurements and the administrative routines in order to improve the Swedish cyber security. It is hard to know how common cyber attacks are in relation to armed conflicts, but Fredrik Robertsson sees a trend where more and more countries are sharing when they have been exposed.

The military damage that would arise from a successful attack from the opponent could be detrimental. Apart from this there is also the economical aspect.

  • If you have bought a qualified weapon system for a large sum of money and it has a supporting system that is possible to attack, the value of the investment would be zero.

The attacks that already happen today are both unqualified attacks from individual people to advanced, government sponsored attacks.

  • And that’s where I believe most people in this industry can agree on the fact that they are very advanced attacks, says Fredrik Robertsson.

An important part of the defence strategy is to always be at the front edge of technology development and to stay updated on new susceptibilities, meaning when those who perform the cyber attacks find new ways to enter the it-systems of companies and authorities. Private actors often make the detections.

  • That is when it’s important to quickly examine if the susceptibility is present also with us, in order to fix it and secure the servers again.

True cliché about the weakest link

One of the keys to good IT security is that all personnel, and not just IT personnel, has enough knowledge regarding data security. If not there is a risk that mishandling of the systems can open opportunities to the attacker.

  • The cliché about the weakest link in the chain is correct to the highest degree when it comes to cyber security and information security, Fredrik Robertsson says.

His view is that it is relatively easy for the National Defence to attract proficient expertise. This is due to both the exciting job assignments as well as the will to contribute their knowledge to the Swedish National Defence.

  • Furthermore, we neither can nor should we have all the competence within the organisation. It wouldn’t be cost efficient, so we also need collaborations with private actors. But we need enough competence, not in the least in order to allow the collaboration to happen in a safe way.

Since a while back, the task to build an active cyber ability is one the National Defence is responsible for. This implies being able to respond to a cyber-attack with a counter attack that wipes out the attacker’s system.

  • This means that we need to build a competence in this area. But out most important task looking forward will still be to protect our own systems and make sure they work, says Fredrik Robertsson.


10 000 incidences each month

According to the National Defence Radio establishment, FRA, Sweden is subjected to around 10 000 incidents containing damaging code each month, which corresponds to one attack every four to five minutes.

There can be different purposes with a cyber-attack. One is to spy through going in to the system and stealing data. Other purposes could be to overload the system so that it wipes out or to sabotage it through going in and making changes to the system.

One example of how cyber-attacks have been used in relation to war-like events is when the power supplies, amongst other things, was blown out during the Ukraine conflict in 2014.


First published in SOFF:s Magazine 2018 (in Swedish).

Text: Per Johansson