Belgian public and private sector to work together to counter cyber-attacks
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    Belgian public and private sector to work together to counter cyber-attacks

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    Companies and local authorities have agreed to work together to create an information network aimed at reacting faster and more effectively to the growing number of cyber-attacks.

    This week saw an information day in Aalter in West Flanders organised by the Flemish ICT Organisation (VICTOR) and Exello, the organisation of general directors of cities and municipalities.

    On the agenda, the growing number of cyber-attacks suffered by companies, administrations and individuals. According to the Centre for Cybersecurity, there were three times more such attacks in 2109 than in the previous year.

    Attacks take many forms. Among the most popular phishing attempts, where the attackers try to obtain information such as passwords or bank details, and ransomware, in which computers are blocked remotely until the victim pays a ransom.

    Recently, both the West Flanders manufacturer of weaving machines Picanol and the local authority in Willebroek were victims of ransomware attacks.

    The new Quick Responsive Community (QRC) would form a network to which victims could report an attack or attempted attack, and which would allow them to obtain rapid information on how to react and what not to do.

    Applications for membership of the QRC are now open on the website of VICTOR.

    Federal home affairs minister Pieter De Crem, who is also mayor of Aalter, opened the information day. He told the audience that the government is determined to fight the problem of cyber-attacks.

    The most recent development is the Quick Reaction Force that is able to intervene in cases of cyber-attack in all of Belgium,” he said.

    “The focus there is on critical infrastructure and vital sectors like the nuclear power plant at Doel or the Port of Antwerp. And the same applies to this new unit as applies to our police services: here too we are looking for good and motivated professionals to join the team.”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times