The northern Dutch city of Groningen is spending three million euros on subsidies to get the project Cybersecurity Noord-Nederland off the ground. The aim of the project is to put the Northern Netherlands at the top in the field of cybersecurity. The business community is also contributing to the project.
The Groningen project consists of a collaboration between various institutions and companies, including the University of Groningen (RUG). All companies together will invest an additional three million on top of the subsidies. The four-year project is intended to help companies better defend themselves against cyber attacks. The intention is also to create more employment.
In the coming years, at least four thousand students at secondary vocational education, higher professional education and university will gather knowledge about cybersecurity. At the RUG, a new professor’s post will be created at the Faculty of Law. According to a spokesperson for the RUG, there is as yet no concrete plan for the implementation of the programme at the university. It is clear, however, that the programme will focus, among other things, on research into cybersecurity. In addition to stimulating education, 500 new jobs will be created in the field of cybersecurity.
Many companies are poorly protected
Companies in the Netherlands are regularly the target of cyber attacks. CBS Statistics published a report last year that showed that 40% of large companies were affected by such attacks in 2016. Web developer and former member of hacker group Anonymous Michel Peters is also often targeted. “I notice this daily with many projects and websites that I maintain with thousands of visitors per week. Peters explains that the attacks are not carried out by people, but mainly by automated scripts. “In the Netherlands, like elsewhere, these are often bots from Russia, Iraq and Indonesia.”
Peters says that with the advent of the internet, companies are more at risk than before. “As a company, you have a lot of services that depend on the internet. All hardware and software can be a target and with the advent of the internet-of-things, the danger is even greater, because millions of new devices will control all kinds of other devices through the internet.” Peters believes that people should be more aware of security. “People need to realize that ease of use is opposed to security. It is very nice to have a password like “password123″, but that is not wise.”
Not all hackers have bad intentions. Peters also has a background in hacking and has himself been fighting the security of the Alpro Soya website. “I then sent Alpro a message about how hacking their security could be done, and how they could solve it. They then sent flowers to my mother with a message there: Thanks for finding!”