How do municipalities secure their systems?

It is incredibly important for municipalities to properly secure their systems. They contain so much sensitive data. Of course, they should not fall into the wrong hands. Our digital security is becoming more important every day. We spoke to Lilian Knippenberg about this.

Lillian Knippenberg has ten years of experience in cyber security and has been working for the municipality of The Hague for two years now. She deals with the people and process side of digital information security, or cyber security. It is in your best interest to take measures to secure your information and also to be resilient against hackers. At the moment that there is an incident, having a good countermeasure ensures that problems can be quickly remedied.

Why is it important for the Municipality of The Hague to have impenetrable security?

The municipality provides services to citizens, entrepreneurs, and visitors to The Hague. For example, The Hague is the only place you can get a valid passport. You can't get around it. The services provided by the municipality are crucial for everyone in the city. That is why it is important that this information is handled carefully. So that the data is hard for hackers to access. Both in terms of privacy and information management.

How does this work on a national scale?

For data protection, there is the GDPR/AVG law. (General Data Protection Regulation). All agencies must comply with this. The municipality and central government further have an obligation to comply with the "Baseline for Information Security in Government" (or BIO). The BIO is a framework of standards that contains lots of practical measures that you have to comply with as a municipality and as a government agency.

How is The Hague unique when it comes to cyber security?

At the municipality of The Hague, the BIO is also leading and the AVG law is also being carefully implemented. What is unique to The Hague is that they also use the 'Nest Cybersecurity Framework.' This is an American model which is mandatory in the U.S. for all government agencies.

This is where The Hague gets new information. They can apply this to their organization. The Hague municipality is also a lot larger than many other municipalities, so where the BIO is sufficient there, a slightly larger framework is needed at The Hague.

The Hague municipality wants to be a forerunner in the field of cyber security and actively cooperates with the larger municipalities in the Netherlands. They are also active internationally. For example, they are in frequent discussions with the "National Cyber Security Center.

What is the risk when these security rules are not followed?

When breaking the GDPR law, every agency is at risk of being fined. But there are more consequences for the people whose information has been leaked. In theory, this could be serious.

There are a lot of threats to the Hague municipality. Hackers are one of the many threats. They have different motives. Due to the variation o threats, there needs to be a proper investigation. That is why maintaining security and resilience is so important. That is how The Hague keeps hackers out.

Event Hack The Hague

In the context of improving security while discovering new vulnerabilities, the Hague municipality has organized an innovative event. This event is 'Hack The Hague.' The idea is to invite ethical hackers. They then try to hack The Hague's systems. Within the frameworks and with a few rules of course.

A competition is attached to the event. Hackers who can discover new vulnerabilities have a chance to win cool prizes. The fifth edition will take place in 2023.

How do you get a job in cyber security?

If you are also interested in pursuing a future in cyber security, there are an awful lot of opportunities in and around The Hague. For example, the Haagse Hogeschool has the study "Information Security Management. In addition, TU Delft has a collaboration with Leiden and Rotterdam in which they also offer a master's degree in 'Cyber Security.' So there are certainly enough options in the region to start a study in cyber security.

In the city, there are many job opportunities. Every company actually needs an information security officer, because nowadays everything is digital. It is a very broad field, from technical to communications. With this, you can go in many different directions. Lilian was certain: ''Everyone can find their drive in the field if you want to.''

Want to know more about cyber security?

If you are wondering exactly what processes there are in information security and what measures can be taken there is a lot of information online. The Association of Netherlands Municipalities has an information security department. This is called the Information Security Service (IBD). Both parties share a lot of information about cyber security. All municipalities are allowed to use it. So it is also public for everyone.

Do you happen to be looking for an internship in cyber security? Then quickly go to the vacancy page on the website or call the number of the municipality of The Hague. They are always looking for interns!

Published on Wednesday 19 October, 2022 / Security