WE ARE ALL CONNECTED Closing speech at the International One Conference
Maarten Camps, Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, The Hague, 17th of May 2017
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s an honour to be here, at one of the biggest cybersecurity conferences in Europe. I hope you have experienced this conference as valuable and as the place to be. Where first-generation hackers meet the next generation. And both generations can learn from each other.
I hope that these two days have underlined the importance of a safe place to do business. And that this safety is not something we can take for granted.
This morning, Melissa Hathaway called the internet the backbone of our economy. I agree, and want to add that digitization means strengthening the back muscles, when striving for economic growth.
Of course, as representative of the Dutch government, I hope these two days have also shown that the Netherlands is a safe place to do business. Not only because of our state-of-the-art infrastructure, but also because it is in our nature to seek cooperation with our partners, both domestic and international, public and private. This conference is an example of that.
So what has happened in the last few days? ‘Playing with fire.’ That’s how CNN described neglecting to install updates. This week has shown us how accurate that description is.
It’s an interesting analogy: fire and the internet. The ability to harness fire accelerated humanity’s progress: it increased the variety of food we could eat and allowed us to create more arable land. You have to know how to handle fire safely, to enjoy the benefits of a flame.
With the internet, it’s similar. It has brought us enormous progress.
But most people don’t encompass into their daily lives the digital equivalents of a fire extinguisher and a fire door.
The only upside to a cybercrime of these proportions is that it reminds us that everybody bears responsibility for staying digitally secure.
Most of the time, non-IT people get their ideas about cyber technology from the world of entertainment. TV series like Mr. Robot, and films like Her and The Circle.
The world of entertainment reflects the fears that many people have about the present and future of digital technology: a slippery slope leading to an impersonal world full of amoral robots. For people who aren’t as digitally savvy as you are, this is a very dark perspective on all things cyber and their place in the digital revolution.
It is a bit like Charlie Chaplin’s classic film of 1936, Modern Times, which criticised the industrial revolution and showed people’s fear of inhuman anonymity and the loss of individualism.
We know now that the negative picture drawn at that time, can be overcome and turned into something positive.
Of course, no one here today at this conference needs Hollywood to tell them about the risks of the digital revolution. Like hackable elections and like surveillance cameras being used to create botnets to attack servers.
You know all about that dark side, and you’re fighting to bring it into the light. To make people more aware of the risks, and better able to protect themselves.
And I know that you also have the kind of playful optimism that we could see in TV shows like The Jetsons and films like Back to the Future.
In these futuristic utopias, advanced technologies seemed to be designed to make life easier and more fun. Watching them, we looked forward to all the wonderful new things the future would bring.
Many of these wonderful things actually have entered our lives: from tablet computers and 3D movies to smart toothbrushes - and diswashers.
Today, nearly 8.5 billion devices are connected worldwide. But people need to be aware that these wonderful things can also be used for malicious purposes.
And equally, they need to know that they can prevent this, for example, by using better passwords.
They can stop their smart fridge from becoming a hacker’s weapon in a cyberwar against American news websites.
As these Hollywood stories tell and show – and as everyone here knows – to enjoy the digital world you need security. At this conference, you’ve been defining what security in the cyber world actually means today. You have raised questions of liability again - questions we need to find answers to, together.
This year’s programme of the conference has deepened our knowledge and enhanced the way we collaborate on internet safety and security for all. The scope of the conference was broader than ever, with sessions ranging from red teaming and law enforcement to cyber diplomacy and economic incentives for more cyber secure operations.
I know that many companies want to be digitally secure. But sometimes they don’t even know how they are cyber insecure. Some CEOs still have passwords like ‘Welcome123’, which makes the business they work for more vulnerable to hacking. And intellectual property- the heart of a company - can be hijacked.
Raising awareness and providing guidance is part of solving issues like these. The government can’t do this alone. We need partners from the private and research sectors to make the cyber environment more secure. We need our European partners.
The European Commission has indicated the need for new insights on this subject – I am sure this conference has provided that, and that it has given the Commission input for the second European Cyber Security Strategy. Maybe you should all head to Brussels to further help them with this progress.
We also need international cooperation. I’m delighted that we can see meaningful progress.
During this conference, the European Energy Information Sharing and Analysis Centre and their Japanese counterpart signed a memorandum. While respecting each other’s independent activities, they will exchange information on good practices in cyber security provision.
And I am excited that by the end of this month we will have two companies in the Netherlands that provide seamless nationwide IoT connectivity: one Ultra Narrow Band, the other one LoRa.
This is a world first. An ideal field lab for exploring the opportunities and vulnerabilities associated with connecting appliances and objects to the internet.
I’m also excited that over the past two days the international informal network of IT experts has been expanded and, hopefully, inspired as well.
Let me return the world of entertainment once more.
Melissa Hathaway reminded us of the fact that we also need creative partners. She mentioned partnering with Disney for a security and awareness campaign – saying she still remembers the songs from the Disney films she saw as a child.
I agree – awareness should should start at a young age. Let’s educate all those kids and teens with smartphones and hackable teddy bears.
The small leaflet that Michael Waksman just showed you before, has been produced two years ago by the Ministry of Economic Affairs partnered up with the publisher of the Dutch Donald Duck magazine and the private sector to release a special issue called Digiduck. We are handing them out today at the ECP stand. Make sure you get one before they’re all gone! For your kids, of course.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is up to the government and the private sector to work together and find synergies between prosperity and security.
And it is up to you, the brightest minds in IT, to remind us that behind the words ‘cyber’ and ‘cyber security’, there are people: hackers and whizz kids, programmers and developers, consumers and users. People like you and me.
One of the participants of the conference wrote this fitting statement on the conference evaluation form: ‘2.58 million emails are sent per second. The system was never built to be safe and secure, but it is worth protecting.’
That’s a good phrase to end with today. Let’s make sure that what we’ve learned here these past two days will contribute to this process of protecting our society and digital world. So that we can all stay connected and reap the benefits of the digital revolution. And so that we can all work and live in a safe place.