Dutch cybersecurity firms vow to protect Netherlands state secrets after Fox IT sale

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. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Chris Roberts

A new consortium of six Dutch cyber security companies promised to not be taken over by foreign parties in order to best protect the cyber-side of important Dutch infrastructure. They feel that Dutch national interests and state secrets are best protected by Dutch companies. With this strategy the cyber security companies are taking advantage of controversy that arose when Fox IT was bought by a British investor in 2015, Financieele Dagblad reports.

Fox IT helps the Dutch government with its cyber security. After it was sold to a British investor, concerns were raised about the sale increasing the risk of espionage by the British secret service.

The consortium was brought together by Pieter Cobelens, former director of Dutch military intelligence service MIVD. It currently consists of cyber security companies Legian, Intermax, Grabowsky, Restment, Keylocker and Hudson Cybertec. With this "Dutch security", the companies are focusing on companies and organizations in vital infrastructure, such as drinking water companies, ports and air traffic control, hospitals and government agencies. 

According to Cobelens, by providing an entirely Dutch solution, the companies are assuring their customers that their protected information fall under Dutch rules and jurisdiction, among other things. "You can count on it that your electronic patient file is stored somewhere in the Netherlands, according to Dutch privacy rules", he said to FD. If one of the consortium's participants end up being sold, or want to go to the stock market, it must leave the consortium. There are also agreements in place to transfer ongoing projects to one of the other companies. Other companies who want to join the consortium, are welcome to do so, he added. 

The National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security welcomes the initiative. "If security can be offered entirely by Dutch companies, you know that the Dutch interest is also paramount", a spokesperson said to FD. She finds it positive that the business community came up with a solution itself to issues raised by Fox IT's acquisition.

According to Fox IT director Ronald Prins, the consortium is offering a solution to a problem that does not exist. The ownership structure of a company says nothing about how the company controls security, he said to FD, adding that Fox IT works under Dutch rules like always.

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