This is how intelligence is compiled

Supo gathers information from a wide range of sources, processing data fragments into valuable intelligence information.

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The role of Supo as an intelligence service is to acquire intelligence information. This information is intended to serve policymaking by the government and public authorities in matters that concern the security of Finland.

Supo only acquires information about phenomena that affect national security, meaning the most serious threats to Finland. Information gathering is based on threats that are defined in legislation.

The various approaches applied for acquiring information are mutually complementary. Supo analysts process gathered information into analyses and assessments for top-level national government. Intelligence information is ideally unique and predictive – and helps policymakers navigate a complex security environment.

Intelligence gathering

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Intelligence gathering methods

Using civilian intelligence methods generally involves seeking a warrant from a court. The Director of Supo nevertheless decides on foreign intelligence, and its heads of intelligence operations may do so with respect to certain other civilian intelligence methods.

Examples of civilian intelligence methods include:

  • Telecommunications interception and traffic data monitoring
  • Technical surveillance of a device 
  • Extended surveillance 
  • Guided use of an information source
  • Intelligence gathering on specific locations 
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Network traffic intelligence on telecommunications that cross the Finnish border

Network traffic intelligence is gathering of information from telecommunications that cross national borders using pre-defined search criteria. The search terms are metadata that distinguish desired network traffic from other traffic. 

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Open source intelligence

Leading intelligence professionals can gather a great deal of very useful information from public and commercial sources.

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Tip-offs from individuals and stakeholders

Supo receives tip-off messages from sources in various walks of life every day. The main challenge is to glean important details from a huge volume of tip-offs.

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Use of covert human intelligence sources

Human intelligence sources must be managed with the utmost confidentiality. Only human sources, for example, are aware of intentions that have not yet been recorded anywhere.

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Official cooperation and registry data

Finland has highly effective official registers, many of which may also be used for intelligence operations within the confines allowed by law.

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International partners

Supo releases and receives information from the intelligence and security services of other countries. Intelligence information is also shared within NATO, where civilian intelligence plays an important role.


Supo analysts seek to assess the significance of scraps of information and to view them in the correct context. Information is often uncertain, and so weighing the reliability of sources and information is a key aspect of an analyst’s work. Information is examined from various perspectives. The intelligence analyst looks into the future, in the sense of endeavouring to anticipate potential trends.

Analysed intelligence information

Supo releases information on an almost daily basis to top-level national government and to public authorities engaged in security-related functions. Information is released not only in written reports, but also at intelligence briefings conducted at in-person meetings.