A security service must be able to detect the unknown threat

2021-10-01

In order to counter the security-threatening activities carried out by other states as well as by violent extremists, we need new legislation and broader prioritisation of Sweden’s security. This statement is made by Director General Charlotte von Essen. On 1 October 2021, she assumed the post as new Head of the Swedish Security Service.

“In order to keep security threats at bay, our Service must always stay one step ahead. To do this, we must be permitted and able to use up-to-date technological solutions, ensure that we obtain and maintain the necessary competence and skills, and expand our Service’s national and international cooperation. In light of the security situation however, more people must help to keep Sweden safe,” explains Charlotte von Essen.

The remit of the Swedish Security Service is to secure the future of Sweden’s democracy, and to ensure that what must not happen does not happen. At the same time, the security threat to Sweden has increased, and the Service assesses that this threat will continue to increase. Both hostile states and violent extremists have increased their capabilities, not least due to digitalisation and today’s polarised society.

“To ensure success in our work, our Service must be able to handle larger amounts of information and be permitted to process data in a way that allows us to access the right information at the right time. A security service must be able to detect the unknown threat before it is realised,” says Charlotte von Essen.

Sweden is an attractive country to other states that wish to steal information or know-how, or influence decision-making and attack democratic values. Such attacks and activities are constant, and target commercial interests, research and development, military activities, political decision-making and human rights and freedoms.

This broader threat has an impact on both critical infrastructures and security-sensitive activities. While what is targeted often faces a substantial threat, protection is lacking, which means there are significant vulnerabilities. Well-functioning protective security measures are vital to protect Sweden.

“Our Service has noted security deficiencies in security-sensitive activities when we produce protective security analyses and work on information security, physical security and staff security. These deficiencies mean that extensive vulnerabilities exist. There is a risk of sabotage and theft of secrets of significance to Sweden’s security and our independence,” concludes Charlotte von Essen.

Quick facts about Charlotte von Essen
On 26 August 2021, Charlotte von Essen was appointed new Head of the Swedish Security Service by the Swedish Government. She is taking over after Klas Friberg, who left his post on 30 September 2021. She has held the post of Deputy Head of the Swedish Security Service since May 2017. Charlotte von Essen has a background as an assessor at the Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeal. In 2001, she took up a post as Legal Adviser at the Swedish Ministry of Justice, and in the autumn of 2009, she was appointed Deputy Director General. In January 2012, she became Director General for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Justice. Between 2016 and 2017, she served as Chief Judge and Head of the Uppsala Administrative Court.

Cirriculum Vitae Charlotte von EssenPDF (pdf, 59.4 kB)