Dutch citizens unprepared to face cybercrime

Alert Online campaign to increase cyber awareness and skills highly necessary

Dutch citizens are too uninformed about cyber dangers and how to protect themselves against them. They also underestimate their likelihood of being targeted. Such appears from the "Cyber security awareness and skills in the Netherlands"[1] study by Alert Online. Well over half of all Dutch citizens have never heard of ransomware, even though it is the fastest growing threat on the Internet. And that is why State Secretary Dijkhoff today launches the Alert Online campaign at KPN. Between 3 and 14 October, two hundred parties will make every effort to increase cyber security knowledge and skills among the Dutch, thus making the Netherlands better prepared to face online threats.

Ransomware has become incredibly popular among cyber criminals in the past few years[2]. The term relates to a virus that holds your computer hostage by making files inaccessible, only releasing them once you've paid a ransom. In 2015, 65% of Dutch citizens had never heard of ransomware. This number has now dropped to 53%. The fact that 15% of the respondents had their own systems taken over by ransomware or knew someone who had appears to be one cause of this decrease. While half of all Dutch citizens are aware of these online risks, many fail to properly protect themselves. Many Dutch citizens fail to ensure their devices are automatically updated (52%) or do not back up their files regularly (also 52%), even though such measures are essential when protecting against ransomware, for instance, or to limit the damage in case of an infection.

Dutch citizens underestimate their likelihood of being targeted

The majority of Dutch citizens (69%) are not very worried about their digital security. They grossly underestimate the odds of becoming a victim of the major Internet threats, like ransomware, phishing and malicious advertising. State Secretary Dijkhoff of Security and Justice says: "Internet criminals constantly develop new ways of seducing us to, for instance, open false e-mails, answer requests or click on malicious advertising. This requires that we, too, become ever more clever, by improving our own cyber skills. This study shows that we still have quite a way to go. And that's why two hundred partners have found each other to jointly launch the Alert Online campaign to improve the cyber skills of citizens and businesses today."

Tips to protect yourself

Alert Online has these three important tips for those who wish to protect themselves against ransomware or prevent damage:

  • Regularly back up your files
  • Update your software immediately. It helps to allow automatic updates
  • Do not open e-mail attachments or click on e-mail links. The e-mail may be false

More practical tips and tricks to ready yourself against cyber threats are available on: Alert Online

About Alert Online

Alert Online is the annual awareness campaign, this year taking placing between 3 and 14 October 2016. Alert Online is an initiative by the government, the business community and the academic community. Two hundred parties make an effort to increase awareness and knowledge of online security and encourage safe online behaviour. This year, the Alert Online campaign focuses on cyber skills: be aware, know what to do, and act on your knowledge. The 2016 Alert Online campaign is organised by ECP, the Platform for the Information Society, on the instructions of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism. For more information, visit Alert Online

[1] Study performed by TNS Nipo among 2,600 respondents, including 963 citizens. TNS Nipo is now known as Kantar TNS.

[2]  Cyber Security Assessment 2016, National Cyber Security Centre, September 2016