Dutch security services: China and Russia present imminent threat to the Netherlands
Together, various Dutch intelligence agencies have warned about the threat of Russian and Chinese cyberattacks on the Netherlands, asking for more budget and cooperation in order to face the threat, the FD reports.
Intelligence agencies raise alarm about Chinese and Russian threat
According to the General Intelligence and Security Service (AVID), the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD), and the Dutch Counter Terrorism Unit (NCTV), digital espionage from China and Russia present an “imminent threat” to the Dutch economy: “the crown jewels of the economy are at risk,” says AVID director Erik Akerboom.
The agencies state that “vital infrastructure” in the Netherlands, such as banks, energy and drinking water facilities, and telecom networks, as well as computers belonging to various companies and universities, are regularly targeted. Sectors that are especially vulnerable are companies in the maritime, aerospace, artificial intelligence, agricultural technology and quantum technology industries.
The topic of cybersecurity has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years. Recently, the European Medicines Agency - based in Amsterdam - suffered a data leak at the hands of Russian hackers. And in December, two Russian diplomats were expelled from the Netherlands after being exposed as spies. Meanwhile, Akerboom says the threat from China is greatly underestimated: “They work with an order list of technology that they want to collect in the world. They play chess on different boards.”
AVID, MIVD and NCTV call for more money and better cooperation
Together, AVID, MIVD and NCTV say they are confronted with these attacks on a daily basis and have issued a joint warning to the FD, asking for better communication and cooperation between the Dutch government, Dutch companies and Dutch universities in order to better face the threat.
However, companies in the Netherlands, in turn, complain about poor communication between themselves and intelligence agencies, telling the FD that vital information from the security services does not reach the companies who have to protect themselves and their data. But AVID, MIVD and NCTV want to establish what MIVD calls a quadrangle in which companies, universities, security services and the government exchange information.
They have also discussed opportunities for securing a higher budget when the new cabinet comes into power following the March elections, saying funds are needed to employ additional hackers and establish supplementary ICT systems. AVID’s budget - the only budget known publicly - currently stands at over 316 million euros for 2021.