Toespraak van SG Maarten Camps bij DCypher

Toespraak van Maarten Camps, secretaris-generaal van het Ministerie van Economische Zaken, bij DCypher op 4 oktober 2017 in Utrecht.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to be here today to speak about cybersecurity from an economic point of view. At the last symposium, our National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism was a keynote speaker. He spoke from a national security perspective. To me, a more digital world means a more digital economy. A digital economy creates opportunities for society, for businesses and consumers. Yet a more digital economy also means a greater need for secure ways to do business in cyberspace.

Every business needs a strong digital dam to protect its data. In the Netherlands, we take pride in our water wisdom. We know how to protect ourselves against flooding, and how to market this knowledge. Take the “Maeslantkering”, for example – a massive storm surge barrier close to Rotterdam, opened in 1997. The New York Times likened the barrier to two Eiffel Towers, toppled over. It’s a vital barrier: it keeps our country and our feet dry.

Just as we protect the Dutch delta against flooding, we must protect our data against cybercrime. We need to employ the same level of ambition to achieve a similar sense of security in our increasingly digital world. It will make us safer. And it will enable us to benefit economically from a greater need for cybersecurity. The Dutch cybersecurity sector is growing by more than 14 per cent a year. You can see some of its recent innovations here today, at the Demo expo. The Netherlands has the biggest internet exchange in the world, located in Amsterdam. Our ambition is to be the digital gateway to Europe, and we are making rapid progress. For example, the Netherlands is now the biggest importer of smartphones in Europe.

We’ve come a long way since 1998.  In less than 20 years, our attitude towards mobile phones has changed drastically. The shopkeeper we saw, and the student: today it would be extraordinary if they didn’t have a mobile phone. And by now it would most likely be a smartphone, with apps for banking, fitness tracking and social media.

Our physical world is increasingly being replaced by a digital world. And we don’t always know how to be safe in this new world. Sometimes it takes a kid to make us aware of the risks. A kid like Reuben Paul, an eleven-year-old cyber guru. At this year’s One Conference, in The Hague, he stunned the audience by hacking his teddy bear on stage. By using the audience’s Bluetooth devices, he turned his teddy bear into a spying device. A toy turned into a cyber weapon – that gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘life hack’.

Reuben reminded us that smart devices need smart people. And a smart economy needs smart companies. However, there is still a big gap in cybersecurity knowledge and awareness. And this gap needs to be filled – fast. Because unethical hackers won’t wait until our cybersecurity catches up with them.

The Dutch government recently announced that it plans to establish the Digital Trust Centre, which will raise awareness the business community, advise companies, and encourage collective cybersecurity initiatives across regions and sectors.

Trust is a key word when it comes to cybersecurity. Because the internet was never built to anticipate cyber criminals. So while the global digital transformation is moving faster and faster, our protective measures are struggling to keep pace.

Knowledge is our greatest power as we work towards a more cyber-secure world. To strengthen this power we need to invest time and resources. We need to invest in cybersecurity research. Applied research can be focused on fixing today’s problems. While fundamental research can help us understand tomorrow’s challenges.

And that is where dcypher comes in. Dcypher is the leading scientific networking organisation in the area of cybersecurity in the Netherlands. It is the link uniting science, government and business, and our future cybersecurity experts.

Dcypher brought the academic and hackers’ communities together, for example, at the ‘Still Hacking Away’ camp in Zeewolde this August. At this outdoor hackers’ camp they hosted a talk about quantum cryptology. And they’ve linked science with business too: IBM sponsored dcypher’s ‘Cybersecurity Research Paper Award’.

Dcypher works hard to align all organisations active in cybersecurity research and development. Last year, they hosted a seaside matchmaking event, where 250 participants could go on speed dates, learn about upcoming opportunities and talk about aligning job profiles more closely with cybersecurity curricula.

Dcypher’s ambitions go beyond our country’s borders: In the spring, they launched a second joint call for research, together with the United States Department of Homeland Security. And with the National Cyber Security Research Agenda, they are creating something unique within our borders, too: a single agenda for all the top business sectors in this country. You are all invited to provide input for the new edition of the Research Agenda during the breaks at this symposium. So please, help us shape the agenda!

Ladies and gentlemen, since our physical world  will increasingly be replaced by a digital world, we need to know how to protect ourselves against threats ranging from toys to transportation systems. People rarely think about the science behind their digitalising world. About all the trial and error, the research and development.

But we know that cybersecurity researchers are crucial in building the science behind our digital dams. The digital dams securing the Netherlands and making it a safe place to do business. I trust that your meeting here today, will contribute to that goal.

I wish you an inspiring day. Thank you.