While the outcome of the Dutch parliamentary elections next week may not be of vital interest to Russia, Russian hackers are targeting the Netherlands as a warm up for the elections in Germany and France, Ronald Prins, co-founder of cyber security company Fox-IT, said to DW.com.
Dutch intelligence service AIVD is very concerned about increasing cyber attacks on the Netherlands by countriees like Russia, China and Iran, AIVD director Rob Bertholee said in an interview with EenVandaag. He calls these attacks a threat to democracy.
Over the past six months the Netherlands fought off hundreds of hacking attempts, Bertholee said. Among the targets were secret government documents. And according to the AIVD boss, it is clear that Russia was behind many of the attacks.
Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk's decision to count the votes in the parliamentary elections by hand is unpractical, according to the Dutch association for local governments NVVB. Counting the ballots by hand is expensive, will take a long time and is unreliable, the NVVB said in a statement.
The votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections in March will all be counted by hand only, to avoid any chance of hackers interfering with the outcome, Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs announced on Wednesday. This follows concerns about the security of software used by the Electoral Council and warnings that the Dutch election may be targeted by foreign parties.
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.
Out of fear of being eavesdropped on, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher did not dare to call Prime Minister Mark Rutte from his cellphone after flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014, Asscher said on television program Jinek.
The Deputy Prime Minister was on holiday in France at the time. Instead of calling the Prime Minister from his mobile phone, he knocked on the door of a neighbor and asked if he could use her landline. "I had to talk to the Prime Minster in The Hague. That you don't do with your mobile. These discussioins might be of interest to Russians or others."
With the parliamentary elections coming up in March, and warnings from American security experts that the Netherlands may be targeted by Russian hackers, Dutch parliament is focused on fixing cyber defense issues and increasing cyber security.
Security experts in the United States are convinced that the Netherlands will be targeted by Russian hackers in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in March, like the American Democratic Party was during the U.S. elections, NOS reports. "The Dutch government is very, very alert", Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs said to the broadcaster. "I have no concrete evidence that this is the case, but I am not naive."
Russian hackers made use of a private Dutch server to attack the American Democratic Party, the Volkskrant reports based on documents from the United States' Department of homeland Security. The Dutch server in question belongs to Rejo Zenger, who wors for privacy organization Bits of Freedom.