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20 Jun 2022

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Cybersecurity helps Rotterdam fight drug smuggling

A successful digital economy does not only bring benefits. The fact that criminals are able to use a high-quality digital infrastructure just as easily as companies and government agencies requires attention. For this reason, the city of Rotterdam - one of the world's largest ports - has announced new plans (in Dutch) to invest in a network of smart cameras and drones to combat drug smuggling in the harbour. In addition, shipload management software is being updated to ensure that only authorized individuals can access the data.

Rotterdam announced these plans in a report on subversive crime. Subversive crime is when criminals misuse legitimate businesses. For example, a cyberattack on a municipality is not only a crime, but also a crime undermining governance processes that are crucial to its success and safety. These criminals cause distrust in government agencies by damaging them. The Dutch government sets aside hundreds of millions of euros each year to combat subversive crime. The Public Prosecution Service, the police, and municipalities can use the funds, including Amsterdam with its international airport and Rotterdam with its huge harbour.

The city of Rotterdam is now investing in smart cameras and drones to upgrade its security against subversive criminals. The city plans to form a "virtual fence" around the harbour area in order to identify suspicious situations and increase the chances of criminals being caught. There is already a large network of cameras, but the city wants more eyes in the harbour, as the area is huge. This will help the police and other law enforcement agencies keep an eye on the situation.

In recent years, network and camera technologies have evolved rapidly. Increasingly powerful and energy-efficient processors allow manufacturers to integrate processing power into cameras. By analyzing images on location, instead of in the cloud, suspicious activity in the harbour can be detected much faster.

Also important is the upgrade of the shipload management software in the Port of Rotterdam. To make cargo data available only to those who are authorized, the harbour authority is developing a tool. Identity and access management has become crucially important.

Rotterdam's port is run by a government agency, and all government agencies in The Netherlands must follow the Government Information Security Baseline (BIO). It is a regularly updated set of cybersecurity rules and measures. Access management is obviously an important component of this baseline.

Photo credit: Bernd Dittrich

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