Digitalisation and cyber security must go hand in hand

The rapid advance of digitisation also has a dark side: it is accompanied by an explosive increase in cyber crime. The recent cyber attack on provider Belnet, which affected the websites of government institutions and universities, proves that this is a general problem. A problem, therefore, that also deserves your attention!

On 4 May, Belnet, an Internet provider under the authority of the Federal Public Service for Science Policy, which manages the central internet junction in our country and enables internet traffic for the computer systems of colleges and universities, research centres and public companies, suffered an unprecedented cyber attack. Other telecom providers such as Telenet and Proximus were also affected, to a greater or lesser extent, by the attack. As a result, the Internet traffic was disrupted. Previously, Smartschool, various secondary schools and other Flemish organisations had been the victims of such an attack.

It was a 'Ddos-attack' each time, meaning that websites are bombarded with thousands of requests until they become overloaded and are consequently blocked. The purpose of the attack would have been to bring down the government websites, which did not happen, although Belnet had its hands full for a while. While the existing security did its job, even Prime Minister De Croo recognises that cyber attacks are a new everyday reality for which we must be prepared. This is sound advice, which companies should definitely take to heart, according to research.

Cyber security and our industry

During a joint press conference on 27 April, which was also streamed live and was actively attended, Sirris, Agoria Howest and UGent presented the results of the first major survey on cyber security in the Belgian manufacturing industry. This study shows that no less than half of the manufacturing companies in our country fear a cyber attack in the next twelve months. On the other hand, only a small leading group of 10 per cent of manufacturing companies today appear to have a well-developed security policy for their IT and operational technology (OT).

You can read the full report on this press conference on the Agoria website.

Protect yourself... with the help you need

It is essential that any company which is adopting digitalisation, also considers the security of its digital data, products and services. The cyber security landscape is constantly changing, so we must also remain constantly alert. The recent attack is an example of how widespread and devastating this can be. The attack happened on a Tuesday and caused problems for some 200 institutions in total, in addition to homeworking students and civil servants, while online services such as Tax-on-Web and the booking system for vaccinations and service providers such as STIB and Fluxis were also affected.

What is the impact? Generally speaking, there can never be a definitive, unchanging protection for Ddos attack, as this depends on the traffic volume that the server can handle. With growing computing power - this attack included combined power from 29 countries - we must be vigilant and continually upgrade Ddos shielding and filtering solutions.

It is already possible to protect yourself against the most common Ddos attacks, as explained in the following article from VLAIO, which contains some relevant tips.

Earlier this year, the agency continued its cyber security improvement projects which includes a range of services within a framework contract from the Flemish government. This offer supports SMEs in Flanders in improving their cyber security. As neutral knowledge partners, Sirris and Agoria can inform you further and help you make the right choice.

Sirris & Agoria can also help you improve your cyber security and are organising the masterclass 'Cyberveilig in 30 stappen' (Cyber security in 30 steps). In four sessions and with individual coaching 30, we provide you with achievable and immediately applicable steps to take your company's cyber security to a significantly higher level. Want to know more about this practical, no-nonsense master class? Read all about it in our agenda!

Or follow our free webinar full of simple solutions and best practices to improve cybersecurity on the manufacturing floor and in office networks. During this webinar, we will introduce the key cyber security solutions and explain best practices to improve cybersecurity in manufacturing.