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"With dcypher, we can initiate a sector of economic significance"

"With dcypher, we can initiate a sector of economic significance"

Maarten Tossings: "The vulnerability of SMEs is a major threat."

Gepubliceerd op 11 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. It's important, because digital crimes such as data leaks, hacks and DDoS attacks are becoming more frequent and more drastic. Maarten Tossings, COO of TNO, is one of the board members. "By combining research, development and valorisation, dcypher can do something about the fragmentation in the innovation landscape."

Tossings began his career as an electrical engineering officer in the Royal Navy. Since then, technology, security and safety have always gone hand in hand. After various operations and a deployment to Afghanistan, Tossings made the switch to the Ministry of Defence. "In 2015 I became CIO there, Chief Director of Operations and Security Authority. That's when cyber security really became a topic for me. Defence had just established the Defence Cyber Command."

General Security Requirements Defence Missions

Defence has traditionally been one of TNO's largest clients. In 2019, Tossings made the switch to the Board of Directors of TNO. "Because of the classified assignments of Defence, the security requirements are very strict, also around cyber security. Those requirements, laid down in the General Security Requirements for Defence Missions, had been drawn up at Defence under my responsibility and I could start implementing them at TNO." In 2021 it became clear that those security requirements were there for a reason. "At TNO we were confronted with a serious hacking attempt by a state actor," says Tossings. "It fortunately resulted in only 1 infected laptop."

Less fragmentation, more investment

Tossings' place on the dcypher board on behalf of TNO is also logical. "The platform, which was previously mainly focused on the academic world, has been broadened to include more applied research and valorisation in the field of cyber security, an area in which TNO is active with over 100 specialists. This is a positive development, because by combining research, development and valorisation, dcypher can do something about the fragmentation in the innovation landscape. In addition to this fragmentation, the lack of investment in cyber security is a threat. Not for nothing did the Cyber Security Council advise the cabinet to invest over €800 million extra to bring cyber security up to standard."

Vulnerable SMEs

Cyber security is not only important for critical sectors and vital systems, Tossings argues. "80% of the economy consists of SMEs. These companies do not have specialists in the form of CISOs, SOCs and CERTs. What should they do if they are hit? Their vulnerability is a major threat."

Exporting innovations

Opposite the threats, dcypher can provide opportunities. Tossings also wants to emphasise that. "We must join forces in an ecosystem in which knowledge institutions and companies strengthen each other in order to achieve real innovation. In doing so, the government will take on its role of investing in the pre-competitive phase. In this way, what we develop in the Netherlands can also be exported. With dcypher, we can give the initial impetus to a sector of economic significance."

Signing up and participating

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


This article was originally published at

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