€20 million to boost protection against cybercrime

Summary

Building on strong existing cybersecurity research in the region, the government of Flanders is looking to arm businesses and citizens against the challenges of the digital age

Time for change

Flanders is to invest €20 million a year in research, training and implementation of cybersecurity measures. The aim is to continue developing the region’s expertise in this field and ensure businesses and individuals are prepared for an increasingly digital future.

Digitalisation and cybersecurity have become essential to every industry. To address the various security challenges that companies face in a hyper-connected economy, the government will spend €9 million a year on digitalisation and security implementation, €8 million on research and €3 on training.

“Nobody would think of leaving their front door open. But the digital equivalent – unsecured systems or using the same password for multiple accounts – is common today,” said Philippe Muyters, Flemish minister for economy and innovation. “It’s time for that to change. Digitalisation is an enormous force for our industry and our way of life, but we have to adjust our security accordingly.”

Increased digital literacy

AES, the global standard for cryptography – the way in which information is locked to prevent it being read by those other than the intended recipient – was developed by a Flemish research group. Flanders is also a leader in the security of distributed systems, in which components are located on different networked computers that communicate and co-ordinate their actions by passing messages to one another.

A total of €8 million will be spent on developing this expertise. “Flanders doesn’t have the economies of scale or the government budgets of international leaders like the US or China, but it does have top research in relevant cybersecurity domains,” Muyters said.

Nobody would think of leaving their front door open, but the digital equivalent is common

- Philippe Muyters

The biggest opportunities lie in translating the research being carried out in Flanders’ knowledge centres into concrete applications and introducing them into local businesses; this will account for €9 million of the investment. Vlaio, Flanders’ agency for innovation and entrepreneurship, has begun working on the digital readiness and literacy of entrepreneurs and businesses.

It will teach companies about the importance of cyber security and support them in implementing security measures. This should lead to a significant increase in the use of cybersecurity technology and support those active in the sector to further develop it.

Finally, a series of training opportunities and a publicity campaign should ensure a higher level of understanding of the various security challenges that companies face in a hyper-connected economy, from SMEs to multinationals. Muyters also wants to ensure that more individuals become aware of how their personal data is handled and how it can be protected.

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