Dutch cyber threat as polls loom

2017-01-12 19:14
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The Hague - The Dutch government is on alert for any signs of possible cyber hacking into the accounts of political parties ahead of March elections, Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said on Thursday.

"There is nothing concrete, but I am not naive," Koenders told the public broadcaster NOS, adding that in the wake of the claims of Russian interference in the US elections the Dutch government remained "very, very vigilant."

"It's important to monitor the situation very closely," he added, during a trip to Washington to learn if US intelligence chiefs have any knowledge of a Russian cyber threat against The Netherlands.

According to the Dutch daily De Telegraaf, the Dutch National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on Tuesday met with party political leaders to help them find ways to boost their digital defences.

The NCSC did not immediately reply to an AFP request for comment, but an assessment released in October acknowledged: "State actors, in particular foreign intelligence services, actively collect digital political information in the Netherlands."

On Wednesday, US President-elect Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Russia may have meddled in the November elections in the United States.

He had so far refused to believe findings from the US intelligence community that concluded Moscow had led an unprecedented bid to influence the US elections.

According to an unclassified report released by US Homeland Security late last month, 20 of the IP addresses used by hackers to access accounts in the US including the Democratic party were based in The Netherlands. That compares to 47 IP addresses in the US, and 45 in China.

Dutch voters go to the polls on March 15, with surveys showing anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) may emerge as the largest party in the Dutch parliament, although not with an outright majority.

The vote in The Netherlands is one of several key elections across Europe this year, which will be closely watched.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Thursday "any attempt to intervene in, to influence national elections from outside is unacceptable."

He insisted the danger was real, adding the US-led military alliance was "concerned" about cyber security and had seen reports about such attacks against "many NATO allies"

Read more on:    russia  |  netherlands

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