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"Cyber security stands or falls with investment in education and research"

"Cyber security stands or falls with investment in education and research"

Aiko Pras: "Vision and a financial impulse are needed from the mission to realise the most secure digital infrastructure in the world in the Netherlands."

Gepubliceerd op 12 januari 2022

Connecting and helping parties with expertise in the field of cyber security in the Netherlands: that is what the dcypher collaboration platform will ensure. This is important, because digital crimes such as data leaks, hacks and DDoS attacks are becoming more frequent and more drastic. Aiko Pras, Professor of Internet Security at the University of Twente, is one of the board members. "Don't polder but do it, in cooperation with each other: that's what dcypher is for."

Pras studied Electrical Engineering in the 1970s at the same university where he now works. "Because of my interest in computers, I graduated on computer networks: the precursors of the Internet. My supervisor said: 'You're going to do this your whole life', and he was right. As a researcher, I started to look into how the Internet could continue to work, with cyber security being an important issue."

Space for researchers

Within dcypher, Pras wants to watch over scientific input on cyber security. "Cyber security problems do not lend themselves to ‘poldering’. What we shouldn't do is conduct surveys and organise panel discussions with various sectors. Because that's not where the solution comes from. Science does have those ideas. Therefore, give researchers plenty of room to develop innovations, with close involvement from businesses, of course. Because their input is needed. Perhaps 1 in 10 innovations will ultimately be successful. But that is also how it works with investments in start-ups. We have experience of this on the Twente campus.

Safe as water from the tap

In order to develop innovations for cyber security, Pras believes that "Vision and a financial impulse are needed from the mission to realise the safest digital infrastructure in the world in the Netherlands. As safe as water from the tap. Next, we need to consider what is required to achieve this. Think of subjects such as a secure network and a secure cloud. You work on this with multidisciplinary teams, focusing on technical, but also social, behavioural and legal aspects."

Drawing up a vision

"Put experts from organisations such as SURF, the NCSC, TNO, ACCSS, NWO and Cyberveilig Nederland together and have them draw up a vision for cyber security," suggests Pras. And combine this with targeting policy and financial resources of the ministries as well as a sharp and concrete needs articulation from the field, topic- and demand-driven. This is necessary, because the Netherlands has spent very little on cyber security to date. And attention must also be paid to education. I see that the number of students opting for a course such as Computer Science has increased sharply in recent years. The bottleneck is the number of professionals who want to and can teach. This must be made more attractive for them.

Action plan and decisiveness

"Developing a vision; it is almost taboo in the Netherlands," Pras believes. "Much is left to the market while security, and therefore digital security, is a government task. Now is the time to develop a solid vision, draw up a plan of action and take action. Don't just do it but do it together: that's what dcypher is for.

Signing up and participating

Do you want to share knowledge from your organisation, company or educational institution, start a research project or contribute in any other way to one of the cyber security communities? You can sign up by sending an email to


This article was originally posted at

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