Finland's foreign ministry computer network has been infiltrated by spies, foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja has revealed to the media.
The revelation followed reports from Finnish broadcaster MTV3 that the breach had been ongoing for four years.
The breach was only discovered after a source from outside the country tipped off the government. The government has been aware of the hack since early this year but delayed making a public statement while it gathered more intelligence on the spies.
The network handled confidential information but it didn't hold or transmit top secret information, Tuomioja said.
The Finnish government has taken steps to help commercial organisations secure their networks, approving on 24 January a national cyber-security strategy to help secure critical national infrastructure.
“We have a cybersecurity strategy of how to improve things,” prime minister Jyrki Katainen told MTV3. “It takes some time. We try to be ahead, and to get ahead, but in this case we weren't.”
MTV3 said anonymous sources had told it that Russian and Chinese state intelligence were suspects in the attack.
Earlier this year, a senior Norwegian military official accused China of systematically stealing intellectual property from companies in the country, adding that the technology had ended up in Chinese military equipment.