Justice Sec: Hackers increasingly target Netherlands

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Hackers are increasingly targeting the Netherlands and cybercrime and digital espionage remain the biggest threats to the digital security in the country. This is greatly influenced by geopolitical developments, such as international conflicts and political sensitivities.

This s according to the Cyber Security Assessment Netherlands, which State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice sent to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, on Wednesday.

Research done by the security services AIVD and MIVD shows that Dutch public institution were frequent targets of sophisticated cyber espionage attacks last year. So-called spear phishing emails - targeted phishing emails that appear to come from a known company - were the most common form of these attacks.

There has been an increase in the number of countries "performing digital attacks on or through the infrastructure of Dutch organizations". The majority of these attacks are related to "economic espionage". Over the past year there have been cyber attacks related to politics - such as malware attacks that have to do with the conflict in the Ukraine - as well as espionage threats from foreign intelligence services. There has also been an - malware that blocks access to the affected computer, which is only released after the victim pays a ransom.

State Secretary Dijkhoff is calling on everyone - both individuals and companies - to make internet security a priority. Businesses and organizations especially have to pay attention to this. Firewalls and virus scanners are not enough, according to Dijkhoff. Companies have to make it a central responsibility to keep an eye on what they need to protect themselves. They should also share as much information as possible about threats and report incidents.

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