Bijleveld warns against 'naivety' in 'cyber war' with Russia

Defence minister Ank Bijleveld has warned that the Netherlands is engaged in a 'cyber war' with Russia that threatens to undermine democracy. Bijleveld's comments on TV show WNL op Zondag followed the revelation earlier this month that Russian hackers had been caught trying to hack into the wi-fi network of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague back in April. In the most explicit condemnation of Moscow by a cabinet minister so far, Bijleveld said the Russians' behaviour was 'dangerous', adding: 'We need to stop being naive in this area.' 'All kinds of attempts are being made to influence our democracy and our day-to-day lives,' she said. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has insisted that the four men, who were intercepted at the Marriott Hotel in The Hague, which backs on to the OPCW building, with a laptop and antenna concealed in the back of their rental car, were on a 'routine visit'. They were escorted out of the country on April 13 after being questioned by the MIVD and having their possessions confiscated. A laptop computer indicated they had also visited Kuala Lumpur, where prosecutors are investigating the shooting down of Flight MH17, and Lausanne in Switzerland, home of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which is looking into the extent of drug taking in Russian sport. The OPCW is carrying out forensic tests in the investigation into the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, on March 4.  More >

'Banks rely on one cyber security firm'

The three biggest Dutch banks are too dependent on a single US cyber security company to protect them against DDoS attacks, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Monday. The paper quotes a report by the government's macro-economic think-tank CPB which says in a new report on cyber crime that giving one player such a strong position is 'worrisome'. 'You can ask whether such a large market concentration is desirable from the point of view of society,' the CPB said. It points out that if the company - Akamai - should itself collapse or be hacked, that the Dutch banking sector could be crippled as well. The CPB says 16 of the world's biggest banks use Akamai, and  that ABN Amro, Rabobank and ING are also all users. However, the banks told the paper that they are not running risks using the US company. 'We use other providers as well as Akamai,' an ING spokesman said. 'And we have our own systems for detecting attacks and fending them off.' ABN Amro and ING both said they use other forms of protection as well. Aiko Pras, a professor in cyber security at Twente University told the paper there are risks in becoming dependent on non-EU providers. 'American companies like Akamai are getting to know our payment traffic systems better and better, while we are losing the expertise,' he said. 'A cyber war is closer than we think.'  More >

Soldaat van Oranje celebrates 2,500 shows

The longest-running Dutch musical, Soldaat van Oranje (soldier of Orange) staged its 2,500 performance on Thursday night night. The musical is based on the true story of resistance hero Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, who was a student at Leiden University when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands. He went underground and fled to England, where he carried out numerous missions in the service of the Dutch monarchy in exile. The musical plays in a rotating 1,100 seat auditorium in a converted aircraft hanger on a Dutch military base. The scenes include a seascape, complete with water, and an aircraft which taxis to a stop. So far, more than 2.7 million people have seen the show, which premiered in October 2010. Everyone at Thursday night's performance was given a commemoration mug. Roelfzema's story was ealier made into a 1977 feature film starring actor Rutger Hauer. Soldaat van Oranje, directed by Paul Verhoeven, is considered to be one of the best Dutch films ever. Roelfzema died in 2007 at the age of 90. The show is scheduled to run until at least January 2019.    More >

3 in 10 Dutch do grocery shopping online

Some 29% of the Dutch are now doing grocery shopping online, up from 21% a year ago, according to new figures from the national statistics agency CBS. The increase puts the Netherlands at the top of the EU list of online supermarket shoppers, the CBS said. Britain used to lead the list but last year the number of people using online grocery services actually fell from 29% to 28%, the CBS said. The European average is 14%. Supermarkets such as Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Plus have been developing their online services and are now being challenged by new players such as Picnic. Clothing still dominates the online retail market, with 57% saying they have bought clothes or sports gear online. In total almost 8 in 10 people in the Netherlands have bought something via internet in the past year. Late delivery is the biggest problem facing online shoppers. Almost a quarter report this as a major issue. Technical problems and wrong deliveries are the second and third biggest bugbears.  More >

Dutch gamers urged to back #myfirstblood

Computer games are often said to be bloodthirsty, but Dutch blood bank Sanquin has run a donor recruitment campaign targeting the players of online battle game League of Legends. Sanquin, which is privately owned, wanted to recruit more young men aged 18 to 35 and worked together with Riot Games, the makers popular game League of Legends, to drum up more support. It is the first time the Dutch League of Legends community has been mobilised by a social campaign, Sanquin says. ‘Are you the gamer who goes as far as possible to win? We do that at Sanquin too,’ the #myfirstblood website text states. ‘Together with our 340,000 donors, we save lives. Perhaps a member of your family or one of the hundred of thousands gamers in the Netherlands. Will you join our battle?’ Players who agreed to check whether they could give blood or not win an award - a Blood Moon ‘skin’ for the character Thresh – if they send a selfie of themselves at the Sanquin testing centre. So far, 300 new blood donors have been signed up, broadcaster NOS reported. League of Legends is one of the most popular online games in the world and is played by tens of millions of people every year. In the game, two teams of five characters attempt to wipe out the other’s base. The campaign, which has generated interest in Belgium and the US, runs until the end of this year. Sanquin says #myfirstblood has been prompted to target youngsters to ensure the continuity of blood donations.  More >