Dutch military intelligence service looking for new cyber specialists

The challenge of keeping the Netherlands digitally safe is increasingly growing, according to Onno Eichelsheim, director of Dutch military intelligence service MIVD. The MIVD is therefore urgently looking for the next generation of cyber specialists to keep hackers out, he said to newspaper Trouw on Tuesday.

According to Eichelsheim, the specialists he is looking for is hard to come by, as they first need more training. "In order to understand new threats, I for example need people who can build algorithms to filter large amounts of internet data", he said to the newspaper.

The MIVD director the Netherlands is facing all kinds of digital threats. Recently American specialists warned that Russian hackers may target the Netherlands with influence operations during the elections, similar to what happened with leaked emails from the Democratic Party during the run up to the American elections. 

"Russia and China perform all kinds of digital espionage attempts, influence operations and cyber attacks.What happened in the United States shows that the Russians are good at using information for political purposes. It is conceivable that the Russians or other parties may also try something towards the Dutch elections, through there are as yet no concrete indications for that", Eichelsheim said to the newspaper. 

Late last year it was revealed that the Dutch Ministry of Defense deals with over a 100 cyber attacks a day on various fronts ranging from computers on their network to individual employees' personal smartphones. Cyber attacks from Russia and China reached record levels in 2015 and only showed signs of increasing. There were also various attempts to hack into agencies working on the criminal investigation into the downing of flight MH17. Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asccher recently revealed that the concerns over Russian hacking and eavesdropping is so high that he did not dare to call Prime Minister Mark Rutte from his cellphone after MH17 was shot down. 

It was also recently revealed that half of the Dutch government's websites do not use secure https connections. Minister Ronald Plaster of Home Affairs recently said that he will oblige all government sites to use secure connections, but this will only happen in the second half of this year at the soonest.

The other side of the cyber threat against the Netherlands is that we are "not sufficiently aware" of new digital warfare methods and skills that potential opponents may possess, Eichelsheim said to Trouw. "For that reason we are also looking at countries like China and Russia. I want to know what they are capable of." This is especially important when it comes to protecting Defense against digital espionage, he added. "That is why it is so important that the Dutch intelligence services will soon be able to look at the cable."

With that Eichelsheim is referring to the new Law on Intelligence and Security Services, which will allow the MIVD and general intelligence service AIVD to spy on large amounts of internet traffic. Currently the intelligence services are only allowed to do targeted searches on internet and mobile phone traffic.