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The Netherlands’ MoD CIO prepares for ‘data-centric warfare’

War is modifying. Although classic conflicts are still prevalent, today’s battlefield is turning out to be digital, claims Dr Jeroen van der Vlugt, main data officer at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Defence.

As a end result, shielding the place and its allies from cybersecurity threats is a essential aspect of the Ministry’s get the job done, van der Vlugt clarifies. “We have the job of defending the Netherlands and defending our associates in the actual physical globe, but also in the cyber globe.”

The modifying nature of war means that digital technologies expertise is turning out to be a make any difference of national safety. Van der Vlugt spoke to Tech Observe to clarify how the Dutch MoD’s IT infrastructure, and the way technologies is ruled, are evolving to support this capability.

The digitisation of warfare is a double-edged sword, claims Dr Jeroen van der Vlugt, main data officer at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Defence. (Photo by hansenn / iStock)

Whether or not it is cyberattacks on national infrastructure or misinformation strategies, condition actors are using digital means to accomplish their overseas plan plans. Van der Vlugt is not shy about who all those condition actors are: “The East, from a Western standpoint,” he claims – additional exclusively, Russia and China.

In 2007, Estonia fell target to a enormous cyberattack which remaining the place without the need of obtain to govt and professional digital expert services for 22 times. Extra a short while ago, hackers have launched cyber offensives from best Lithuanian officers and final decision makers. In both equally instances, the Kremlin is thought to have been driving the attacks.

Whether or not or not these methods represent ‘war’ in the classic perception is up for discussion. Incorporating to the complexity is the trouble in attributing these types of attacks to condition actors or criminals, Van der Vlugt clarifies. “For occasion, we observed it with the Colonial Pipeline [ransomware attack] in the US,” he claims. “It was attributed to a Russian prison organisation… which often also performs for the Russian govt in attacking other governments.”

War or not, this modifying risk demands defence ministries to adapt. “The problem is that when the conflict is modifying, how can you adapt to that problem?” For Van der Vlugt, details is essential to this adaptation. “Anyone who has the greatest data at the right time… will earn the war,” he claims.

Everyone who has the greatest data at the right time will earn the war.

As a end result, the Dutch MoD is employing “new details platforms to trade data amongst our modern weapon techniques.” This features techniques that course of action the wide volumes of details designed by sensors embedded in army equipment, these types of as the F-35 or MQ-9 aircraft or new sea vessels, to support commanders make conclusions. Meanwhile, the Ministry is renewing its whole IT infrastructure, deploying non-public cloud infrastructure in new details centres.

Van der Vlugt simply cannot disclose which details platforms it is using: “That would damage our posture,” he claims. And without a doubt, the expanding digitisation of army operations is both equally an chance and a risk, he claims. By interfering with details or algorithms, an adversary could affect army system. But this is a double-edged sword: “It is also offering us an chance to do the identical with our competition,” claims Van der Vlugt.

Netherlands’ MoD CIO on winning a seat on the board

When van der Vlugt joined the Dutch MoD in early 2020, the CIO posture did not have a seat at the govt board. This, he claims, meant that technologies expertise was not presented adequate priority.

“When you are reporting to a CFO or other particular person, you are not in the right posture to focus on IT, details and cyber at board amount,” he clarifies. “That is a pretty essential lesson I have uncovered and I think each individual CIO should have a seat at the table.”

But due to the fact joining, van der Vlugt has secured a seat on both equally the MoD’s govt board and its Board of Defence, a particular committee liable for defence and capability arranging and procurement. As a end result, his technologies expertise feeds into discussions of funds and organisation priorities, and aided condition the MoD’s Defence Eyesight 2035 system.

Van der Vlugt’s section also initiated a competencies gap analysis to discover the condition of IT, cybersecurity and details competencies among the the workers in the organisation, and wherever advancements are desired.

A single location of concentrate has been the Ministry’s senior leadership. New recruits be part of the army at a youthful age, ordinarily in their late teenagers. As a end result, today’s senior officers joined 20 or thirty many years ago, when the strategic technologies of the existing era had been still nascent. “You have to educate the best leadership of the organisation about cyber, details science and AI mainly because when you really do not do that, they still will make conclusions which are not meant for long term war preventing.”

The Dutch MoD also delivers cybersecurity and details science training for its civilian staff members. As aspect of its defence cyber system, the Ministry trains all workers to make them mindful of the added benefits and risks of the digital era. “We provide details science modules to all people within just the Ministry of Defence,” van der Vlugt clarifies. “We do the identical for cyber-linked issues so all people is entitled to call all those schooling courses.”

This underscores van der Vlugt’s check out that “data-centric warfare” will outline the conflicts of the long term, and nations that have the infrastructure and means to exploit details will be the victors.

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