The Netherlands will use intelligence or military services to counter cyber-attacks that threaten its national security.
Ben Knapen, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, while answering a parliamentary inquiry into the country’s plans to combat ransomware attacks, in a letter to the Dutch Parliament said, “If a ransomware attack, whether or not with a financial objective, crosses the threshold of a (manifesting) threat to national security, for example, due to the failure of critical sectors, then the government also has other resources at its disposal.”
The entire process will include investigating the attack, attributing it to a specific threat actor, and taking action against the aggressor.
He said, “An example of the latter is taking IT infrastructure offline (or having it taken offline) that is part of the attack infrastructure or that is misused for digital espionage or sabotage.”
According to him, the Netherlands in addition to the intelligence services can also respond with the Armed Forces. He said, for example, “the Defense Cyber Command can carry out a counter-attack at the end of the day to avert an enemy action or to protect an essential interest of the state.”
Ransomware Operators Beware
According to Knapen, the country does not respond to all cyberattacks in this manner, as it relies on “diplomatic or legal channels” first.
Earlier after a series of hacking attacks by the state-sponsored hacking group APT29 was nailed by the Dutch intelligence service AIVD hacked them back in 2014. The intrusion by AIVD allowed them to warn the US State Department of an impending cyber operation.
As of now, the Netherlands has not witnessed a ransomware attack of large or severe scale that would require intelligence or military forces, said Knapen.
Dutch companies have been victim to cyber-attacks but only sparingly, usually targeting the private sector.
The Dutch official’s letter is a clear indication the country is in no mood to bow to ransomware gangs and may respond without warning and regardless of the country they operate from.
Earlier this week UK officials announced a similar plan, to use offensive cyber capabilities of their intelligence services to go after foreign threats, including ransomware gangs.
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