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Dutch government agreement increasingly focuses on IT security

After record setting negotiations, four parties have finally presented a coalition in the Netherlands. There are a fair number of cyber security measures in the preliminary agreement, which will serve as a guideline for the government s term for the coming years.

Following the elections of 15 March1, three of the four larger parties in the Netherlands started coalition talks a task that was viewed as difficult from the start.

Dutch Government Agreement Increasingly Focuses On IT Security

With the Liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats as the largest parties, it would be difficult to reach consensus with the biggest winner Green Lefts and the centre-democratic Democrats 66 (D66). After Green Lefts eventually dropped out of the coalition talks, a new attempt was made with the Christian Union, a painfully slow negotiation process that was concluded on 10 October with a coalition agreement.

As opposed to a few years ago, the new agreement has a rather large number of sections on IT security pointed out by many in the industry by counting the use of the term cyber , which appeared eight times in the 70-page document that outlines the new government s plans for the country over the next four years. An important factor for adding so much IT to the agenda would be D66, the centre party with MP Kees Verhoeven2 as a well-known spokesperson for the digital agenda.

Law on intelligence and security-agencies

Of particular interest in the agreement are amendments to the controversial law on intelligence and security agencies3, which will go fully into effect on 1 January 2018. A group of petitioners recently successfully collected enough signatures4 to start a national referendum to try to rescind the law, which would give intelligence agencies the power to use dragnet methods for collecting information on many people in a single area . Most criticism of the law revolves around the supervision of an accountability taskforce, of which some is too vague.

Even though the WiV will go into effect regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the new coalition has decided to evaluate the law within two years . If the supervision is indeed not enough, the law can be altered if necessary.

Use of zero days

Another controversial law, the Computer Criminality Act III, will also be slightly altered . Newly detailed plans in the agreement specifically mention the use of zero-days by law enforcement5, and gives stricter rules for police and intelligence agencies to use these. Specifically, zero-day-technology can only be bought and used if required for very specific cases . Also, vendors of such software will be screened by the Dutch national intelligence agency AIVD to make sure software is not also sold to dubious regimes . As with the WiV, this policy will now also be evaluated every two years, and law enforcement has to release statistics on the use of zero-days on a yearly basis.

A lot of these measures are seen as both good and bad by experts . Good, because a new evaluation clause has been added and several safeguards have been built in to prevent abuse . But privacy activists had hoped for more severe measures like scrapping parts of the laws entirely.

Investing in the country s digital capacity

The coalition plans to spend an extra ‘ 95m to lay out an ambitious cyber security agenda and to increase the country s digital capacity . The new funds will be divided among several departments like the Ministry of Security and Justice, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Interior. An extra investment of ‘ 275m a year will be put into digital forces within the Dutch army, starting 2020, to increase cyber capacity in the armed forces. A particularly increasing role will be designated for the National Cyber Security Center6 (NCSC), which advises the private sector on security practices and will be taking on a bigger role in preventing cyber crime and attacks in the future. Also new is the intention to make revenge porn illegal, or the posting online of pornographic material of an ex as a way of revenge after a bad breakup .

This would probably be broadened to any form of posting nudity online of other persons, though the agreement keeps the terms vague most likely to allow for interpretation. A particularly high-profile case of revenge porn dominated the Dutch technology news earlier this year, as a young girl sued Facebook for refusing to hand over information on who uploaded a video of her . The case got some international attention when Facebook, after a long legal battle, was ordered to hand the information over7 in 2015.

Storing of email addresses

Hidden away somewhere else in the agreement is the addition of email addresses in the Municipal Personal Records (the Basisregistratie Personen), with little more details given other than that email addresses will be stored safely and encrypted . There’s also a small line about increasing the security of DigiD, the digital login system Dutch citizens can use to login to government services to do their tax returns or view their student loans . There have been talks for years about replacing DigiD in favour of a new system called eID8, which has been in an experimental phase for a while but has not been rolled out yet.

Internet of things security standards

For suppliers, the coalition plans to introduce security standards for internet of things appliances9, though how these standards are to be implemented remains to be seen . This had been a longstanding wish of D66. The agreement also mentions a possible import ban for appliances that don t follow security practice, although was not detailed.

The coalition agreement is so far just an agreement the four main parties have set up, but it s far from definite . The new coalition will be small with a majority of only one, with 76 seats in a house of 150. The parties ideals are also far apart, so only a few dissidents in the coalition might mean a law could fail to pass.

However, after more than eight months of negotiations, Dutch MPs will probably not be looking for hard internal clashing.


  1. ^ the elections of 15 March (
  2. ^ Kees Verhoeven (
  3. ^ controversial law on intelligence and security agencies (
  4. ^ successfully collected enough signatures (
  5. ^ the use of zero-days by law enforcement (
  6. ^ National Cyber Security Center (
  7. ^ was ordered to hand the information over (
  8. ^ a new system called eID (
  9. ^ introduce security standards for internet of things appliances (

New iOS 11 security feature will help iPhone users fight the power

The latest iOS 111 beta has revealed a new security feature that will enable iPhone owners to temporarily disable the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Rapidly pressing the Home button five times will bring up an SOS button . This will alert emergency contacts to your whereabouts . This much we knew. However, accessing the SOS screen also disables Touch ID until the user s passcode is entered (via Apple Insider2). The so-called cop button arrives with lingering controversy over law enforcement pressing citizens to unlock their phones using the fingerprint sensors.

In February 2016, a Federal Judge in Los Angeles3 signed a search warrant that forced a woman to unlock her iPhone with her fingerprint.

Related: iPhone 84

Last December Scotland Yard officers snatched a smartphone from a suspect5 while it was unlocked, in order to bypass the security. Police in Michigan even 3D printed a murder victim s fingerprint6 in order to unlock a smart device. Pass codes remain off limits to law enforcement officials, which is what makes the new cop button all the more powerful.

If iPhone users believe they re in a position where they may be asked to unlock their phone with a fingerprint, they can simply press the home button five times in succession to disable it.

iOS 11 is nearly here

iOS 11 is approaching completion with the full release expected around a month from now. Given the latest rumours are pointing towards an iPhone 8 without a Touch ID sensor, it ll be interesting to see whether this new feature will apply to the expected Face ID feature. The new OS will bring a redesigned control centre, the brand new Apple Files directory, peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments, improved Siri and a Do Not Disturb while driving mode.

Will you be downloading iOS 11 when it lands or waiting until it s clear of potential launch bugs ?

Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.


  1. ^ iOS 11 (
  2. ^ Apple Insider (
  3. ^ Federal Judge in Los Angeles (
  4. ^ iPhone 8 (
  5. ^ snatched a smartphone from a suspect (
  6. ^ 3D printed a murder victim s fingerprint (

Virgin Media router security flap follows weak password expose

Virgin Media has urged 800,000 customers to change their passwords to guard against possible hacking attack. The move follows an investigation1 by consumer mag Which? that discovered hackers could access the provider’s Super Hub 2 router, allowing access to IoT devices connected through the same home network . The issue stems from shortcomings in the default password Virgin Media prints on its routers than a recently discovered security vulnerability in routers it supplies2. Virgin Media stickered default router password is constrained to certain characters, lowering password entropy in the process and making it easier for hackers to mount successful brute force attacks.

“It appears to be that the default Wi-fi PSK is too short .

8 char a-z . Not exactly a new story though,” Pen Test Partners’ Ken Munro told3 El Reg. “It seems unfair for Which to finger just Virgin, as most ISPs have had weak default PSKs at some point,” he added.

Virgin Media pointed El Reg towards a customer forum post on the issue, adding: “I can reassure you the threat to our security is minimal”. David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab, said: “Cybercriminals routinely make use of vulnerabilities, and the case of Virgin Media s Super Hub 2 router highlights the fact that there are more connected devices than ever before, and therefore, more potential vulnerable devices that can be compromised.”

The issue highlights wider concerns about consumer router security, which has been a problem for years – long before the rise of the infamous Mirai botnet4 late last year prompted more ISPs to sit up and finally take notice . Mirai spread thanks to a mixture of open ports and weak default passwords . In some cases, simply changing passwords wasn’t enough and a firmware update would be needed.

Matthias Maier, security evangelist at Splunk, said: “Organisations that provide internet connected devices to consumers need to think carefully about how they will overcome the security challenge that will inevitably come with the devices they produce . Suppliers need to think about the responsibility they have for owning the maintenance of a device for its full lifecycle .

They need to introduce monitoring for flaws and ensure over-the-air (OTA) updates are available so that their customers are better protected.”

Sponsored: How Artificial Intelligence Will Secure the 21st Century5


  1. ^ investigation (
  2. ^ security vulnerability in routers it supplies (
  3. ^ told (
  4. ^ Mirai botnet (
  5. ^ How Artificial Intelligence Will Secure the 21st Century (