AIVD Annual Report 2010 published: warning against cyber espionage
In its 2010 annual report, the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) states that there is a serious risk of digital attacks on electronic networks in our country and that these attacks are expected to increase in number. It is therefore important that essential systems are adequately protected and that espionage and large-scale system failure can be prevented.
In 2010 the service has identified a number of cyber espionage attacks and has informed relevant parties accordingly. The AIVD has developed an analysis method to help boost the resilience of companies and governments against this threat.
The service's annual report also states that there is a wide-spread lack of understanding of the value of information and how to assess what interests it may serve. People overestimate the safety and security of technical devices, such as the laptops and smartphones they use in their everyday work. Exchanging sensitive information over the telephone or by email always constitutes a risk, because such communications can pass through foreign communication hubs. And sometimes email messages sent from aforementioned portable devices are temporarily stored on foreign servers. Foreign intelligence services are eager to take advantage of such opportunities. The AIVD works together with the government and trade & industry, within the framework of the National Cyber Security Strategy, for example, to safeguard the Netherlands against this risk.
In 2010 the AIVD has established that foreign intelligence officers - from China, among others - are demonstrating an interest in Dutch (high-tech) companies. The service has also observed various kinds of Russian intelligence activities. Whenever possible, the service has warned the companies in question and disrupted espionage activities. A joint programme set up together with the Ministry of Security and Justice has been launched to warn the sectors involved.
The service has observed that foreign services have demonstrated undiminished interest in the various migrant communities in our country in 2010. This attention has not only manifested itself in overt influence activities, but also in clandestine attempts made by foreign governments to map and influence these communities. The service informs as many parties and partners as possible to prevent the fundamental rights of Dutch residents from being infringed upon.
The AIVD gathers foreign intelligence to provide the Dutch government with information. The recent developments in North Africa and the Middle East are of great interest to the Dutch government and have led the AIVD to intensify its focus on this task.
Early identification of the jihadist-terrorist threat posed by terrorist groups operating internationally has been a top priority for the service in 2010. This threat particularly emanates from the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are various indications to suggest that the threat against Europe as a whole has increased in 2010. This also applies to the threat against our country, even though it is still less acute than in some of our European neighbours.
The internet plays an important role in the threat manifesting against the West, the AIVD concludes in its annual report. This role consists not only of disseminating jihadist propaganda, but also of forming networks and recruiting militants, facilitating Jihad, and plotting attacks.
In 2010 the AIVD has also focused attention on radical and ultra-orthodox Islamic movements that may pose a threat to the democratic legal order. Examples include the Muslim Brotherhood, the Tablighi Jamaat, Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Salafi movement. It has been established that even though these movements may potentially pose a threat to the democratic legal order in the long term, they are still relatively small and the Dutch (Muslim) population is quite resilient to radicalisation.
Animal rights extremists exchange information, announce (protest) actions and publish particulars of ‘bad' companies on the internet, among other things. The AIVD has, however, observed a decrease in the intensity and the number of activities undertaken by animal rights extremists, partly as a result of tougher government policy. Prevention and international co-operation have contributed greatly towards countering this phenomenon in 2010. This form of extremism continues to have a strong international dimension.
The latter also applies to extremists involved in opposition to the Dutch asylum and aliens policy. Last year once again saw a rise in violent actions, such as arson and vandalism. The AIVD has also observed that Dutch pro-asylum activists increasingly take part in actions abroad, particularly in Belgium.
The English version of the annual report 2010 of the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) will be available on this website within a couple of weeks.