Denmark is preparing to go on the offensive in cyberspace. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Scanpix
The Danish Defence Intelligence Service (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste – FE) is preparing Denmark to be able to attack foreign states and organisations in cyberspace, Politiken reported on Friday.
According to the report, some 465 million kroner ($75 million) is being invested through 2017 to build an offensive cyber attack unit.
The new approach comes after reports that foreign hackers targeted Danish defence industry, the Business and Growth Ministry, the Danish Maritime Authority (Søfartsstyrelsen) and Statens IT, which provides IT services to a number of government authorities.
See also: State-sponsored hackers spied on Denmark
At least four Danish companies, including Novozymes, have also been the victim of cyber attacks. In all instances, China is seen as the likely culprit.
FE’s plan to build a cyber army is not without its critics or legal challenges. According to some experts, a cyber attack would be viewed in the same manner as a traditional military operation, meaning it would require parliament’s approval.
“When we go to war, it is parliament that declares war and the military that carries it out,” Anders Henriksen, an expert in international law at the University of Copenhagen, told Politiken.
Troels Lund Poulsen, a spokesman for opposition party Venstre, said that in order for Denmark to employ cyber weaponry, a balance would need to be struck between upholding the constitution and keeping plans for a cyber attack secret.
“For myself and Venstre, it is essential that we can’t just have some defence chief or other person use this offensive capacity without parliamentary support,” he told Politiken, adding that on the flip side he couldn’t envision parliament discussing such sensitive information openly in Christiansborg.
The defence minister, Nicolai Wammen, said that he didn’t think that the use of cyber warfare would conflict with the parliamentary control ensured by the constitution.
“I am convinced that the constitutional requirement to include parliament in the given situation can be reconciled with any concerns in relation to the operation’s implementation and security,” Wammen told Politiken.