Dutch government poorly protected against cybercrime: study

The Dutch government and Dutch companies are very poorly protected against cyber attacks and crime, according to a report by the Rathenau Institute. Current measures against cyber threats are insufficient and strengthening cyber security in the Netherlands should be a higher priority, the report says according to ANP.

The report, titled A never run race was done at the request of the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security and intelligence service AIVD.

According to Rathenau, the Netherlands, as one of the most IT-intensive economies in the world, is a very attractive target for cyber criminals. The government and companies with high value technology are structurally the targets of cyber espionage and attacks. More and more small and medium sized enterprises also fall victim to cybercrime. And the security on smart devices is often not up to scratch, making them vulnerable for use in large-scale DDoS attacks. 

Rathenau recommends that an independent knowledge center for SME's be established. And annual hack tests should be performed in vital sectors, such as telecoms, transport, water, energy and healthcare. Watchdogs and supervisors must be more strict against unsafe digital products. And finally the institute calls on the government - which accounts for the use of about 30 percent of the security products and services in the Netherlands - to play a more exemplary role. 

That the government's cyber security is not up to scratch is already a well known fact. Previous studies revealed that about half of government websites don't use secure https connections and that the "average iPad is better secured than" the software used by the Electoral Board. This led to Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs deciding that all ballots in the upcoming parliamentary election will be counted by hand. 

On a more individual level, Dutch politicians also don't seem to realize the importance for proper online security. Most of the political parties don't have secure websites. And recently RTL managed to hack into a number of parliamentarian's social media accounts by figuring out that many use the same password for every account.