Cyber Security Assessment Netherlands

The Cyber Security Assessment Netherlands (CSAN) 2018 offers insight into threats, interests and resilience, as well as related developments in the field of cybersecurity, relevant for national security.

The CSAN is an annual publication of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism. The CSAN is compiled in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), the Dutch intelligence agencies and with cooperation of the business community, government bodies and academia.

CSAN 2018 shows the scope and severity of digital threats facing the Netherlands are still considerable and continue to evolve. National security remains under constant threat of digital attacks. The Dutch economy and broader Dutch society have become entirely dependent on digital resources. Attacks and outages can have major consequences, potentially disrupting society itself.

Digital threat is permanent

Cyber attacks are profitable, simple to execute and involve little risk for attackers. In light of recent geopolitical developments, state actors are expected to continue using such digital attacks and may even opt to do so on a greater scale. However, we are also seeing another development whereby attackers fail to anticipate, or accept, the unintended consequences of their actions on other countries that do not constitute their primary target. The most familiar case in this respect is NotPetya, an attack that also inflicted unintended financial damage on Dutch companies.

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    The Cyber Security Assessment Netherlands (CSAN) 2018 offers insight into threats, interests and resilience in the field of cyber security.

    Sabotage and disruption by nation-states continues to be the most significant threat to national security. Nation-states are perpetrating an increasing number of digital attacks. The objective is to acquire strategic information through espionage and to influence public opinion or democratic processes, or to disrupt or even sabotage vital systems. This harms national security.

    Attacks targeting a single country have also led to damage in other countries, including the Netherlands. The attacker fails to recognise the risk of collateral damage, or may even accept it.

    The threat from professional criminals also continues to grow. Attackers can acquire tools for digital attacks, to which the government, businesses and members of the public fall victim, at low cost.

    The government, businesses and members of the public are dependent upon cyber security. Attackers and nation-states continue to succeed because organisations don’t have basic measures properly in place. Insecure products and services continue to make life easy for attackers. The vulnerability continues to grow as a result of dependence on foreign parties.

    The digital threat is permanent. For an attacker, a cyber attack is usually profitable, low-threshold and involves little risk. The consequences of attacks and of the failure of vital systems can disrupt society. It is therefore important that the government, businesses and members of the public take measures to make the Netherlands cyber secure.

    The CSAN is an annual publication by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (Nationaal Coordinator Terrorismebestrijding en Veiligheid) and is written in cooperation with public and private partners, and the research community. Would you like to know more? Then visit english.nctv.nl.

The most significant threats are sabotage and disruption by nation-states

Nation-states are perpetrating an increasing number of attacks on other countries for geopolitical reasons. Their aim is to acquire strategic information through espionage, to influence public opinion and democratic processes, or even sabotage vital systems.

Cybercrime continues

Professional criminals continue to be a major threat to Dutch society. Cyber attacks with a major societal impact can be perpetrated with relatively few resources. Perpetrators can carry out attacks without any need for large-scale capabilities; they can simply purchase them externally. This became clear in January, when the DDoS attacks plaguing several banks turned out to have been carried out with a simple bought-in attack.

Lack of basic measures

Many organisations in the Netherlands fail to implement the basic measures needed to repel cyber attacks. This concerns basic measures such as the timely installation of updates or prevention of flaws in configurations. For example WannaCry and BadRabbit exploited known vulnerabilities and could have been prevented if the necessary security updates had been installed. Insecure products and services make life easier for attackers. As the recent period has shown, organisations could have prevented incidents and mitigated damage by ensuring that their basic security was properly in place.