Parliament has set up a team of experts to advise MPs on proper security for their social media accounts after RTL Nieuws managed to hack into several Twitter and Facebook pages.
Parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib made the move after hackers broke into the accounts of Kees van der Staaij, leader of the fundamentalist Protestant party SGP and Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omtzigt.
Both politicians would be important targets for foreign or hostile hackers, RTL said. Van der Staaij is a member of the parliamentary security committee where party leaders are briefed on state secrets. Omtzigt has a major role in the investigation into the MH17 crash and would be of interest to Russia.
Both MPs had used relatively simple words as passwords, making their accounts easy to hack. They also used the same password for different social media accounts.
Earlier on Thursday, foreign minister Bert Koenders said the Dutch government is ‘very, very alert’ to the risk of hacking by Russia.
‘I have no concrete indications but I am not naïve,’ Koenders told broadcaster NOS during a visit to the US.
Last week, the American security service concluded that Russia had hacked emails from the Democratic party and there are expectations the same will happen in the Netherlands ahead of the Dutch general election in March, the broadcaster said.
There have been other claims of Russia attempting to influence events in the Netherlands. Last January, Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported Russian influence had been ‘detected’ ahead of the Dutch referendum on the EU’s treaty with Ukraine.
The NRC carried an analysis of Russia’s online influence in the Netherlands earlier this week. It quoted the Dutch security service AIVD as saying: ‘Russia’s worldwide campaign to influence policy… also impacts the Netherlands.’
Nevertheless, the article pointed out, research by the European Commission suggests the Netherlands is one of the EU countries where many people have a negative opinion of Russia.
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