Netherlands urges citizens to prepare survival kits in case hackers target critical infrastructure
The latest campaign from the national coordinator for security echoes the growing concern in the UK government over serious cyber attacks
Dutch citizens have been urged to prepare emergency disaster kits in case a cyber attack or natural disaster hits the country.
The campaign to prepare the kits is being pushed by the country's national coordinator for security and counterterrorism (NCTV) Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg. He told local media that citizens should be able to survive for two days without water, electricity, or gas in the event that critical infrastructure is compromised.
Dutch citizens were last encouraged to prepare disaster kits back in 2009 but Aalbersberg said the latest awareness campaign was driven partly due to the number of cyber attacks across the globe is increasing.
“The Netherlands is extra vulnerable,” said Aalbersberg to AD. Digital technology in the Netherlands is advanced and many systems rely on it, he said. There’s also a lack of an analogue option to fall back on as a backup.
Aalbersberg also said that as the country has experienced technological development, its resistance to attacks hasn’t developed at the same rate. “The gap between threat and resistance is still too wide,” he said.
The coordinator also warned that startups are being targeted by China and Russia, since larger companies have better digital security. He gave an example of two Russian spies trying to take away Dutch tech, but went to startups instead of larger companies. Aalbersberg said this was because startups are “mainly busy with other things” like putting a product on the market, and view security as something that comes after this phase.
Society also needs to increase its shock resistance, according to the security chief, especially since disaster preparation hasn’t been seen in the Netherlands for a long time, but was common during the Cold War era.
The Netherlands appears to be getting citizens ready in case a cyber attack plunges the country into a blackout, clearly worried about the rise in ransomware and how other countries have been brought to their knees after being hit by these kinds of attacks.
The seriousness of cyber attacks is also taking up officials’ time in the UK, where members of the Cobra crisis management team are dedicating more time to ransomware incidents, according to a report from The Record.
The majority of its meetings are reportedly focused on ransomware attacks in the country, with some saying this demonstrates the government hasn't made substantial progress in neutralising the threat of ransomware.
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Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure and entire nations have been hugely impactful in recent years. In May 2021, for example, a ransomware attack shut down one of the main fuel pipelines in the US.
The company that owns the pipeline, Colonial Pipeline, is responsible for 45% of the fuel supplies on the east coast of the country. It was forced to suspend 5,500 miles of pipeline after it fell victim to the cyber attack, and eventually paid hackers $4.4 million to regain access to its systems, although around half was recovered by the FBI.
More recently, in May 2022, Costa Rica declared a state of emergency after being hit by a Conti ransomware attack. The attack hit the country’s treasury, which affected its digital services and forced it to operate manually. Conti demanded a $10 million ransom for the government regain access to its systems.
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