Armed Forces want to carry out cyber attacks

The Swedish armed forces want to build their capability to attack other countries' computer networks. In a recent report on the long term strategic planning, the armed forces stress the need to also go on the offensive as part of the cyber defence.

It is not that common to hear Sweden, with its long tradition of neutrality, talking of acquiring capabilities to attack other countries. But in the armed forces' latest forward planning document that was handed over to the government the other week, there is a repeated mention of the need to develop what is called "offensive cyber capabilities".

The Social Democrat spokesperson on defence Peter Hultqvist thinks this is the right way forward.

"The technical development takes its course and this is an area where, if you are serious in thinking about the future, you have to keep up and in some way develop our capabilities. And when you speak of capabilities, it means defensive as well as offensive ones," he says.

The report notes that several countries already have or is currently developing a cyber defence that is prepared also to launch strikes in cyber space. The conclusion is that tf Sweden does not keep up with this development, it risks becoming more vulnerable and exposed. In addition, the Swedish Armed forces would like to develop capabilities in space and so called unmanned systems.

Christian Democrat spokesperson on defence, Mikael Oscarsson, is also in favour of more offensive cyber capabilities.

"I think we need all of that. They are important complements, and not the least cyber is a substantial threat," he says.

But his colleague in the Liberal party, which is also part of the centre right government together with the Christian Democrats, is more cautious. Allan Widman says that the Armed Forces do not have enough money even to carry out its current obligations, so instead of chucking money at cyber capabilities, the investment should go to make the current system work properly.

"Sweden is a small country and we need to choose cost effective solutions. The way things are today, Sweden should prioritise capabilities that can be achieved in the near future and not stuff that is much further down the line," says Allan Widman.

The Liberal Party is the only party in parliament that is currently in favour of joining Nato.