Roads and waterways more secure

By Koos van der Spek

More and more human hands are giving way to digital processes, increasing the risk of hacks, cybersecurity failures and break-ins. Because governing is looking ahead, it is important to anticipate this now. But how do you tackle that? A good example of this is the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), which in 2014 started a large program in which all (moveable) objects - or "works of art," as they are called within RWS - are tested for their security and, where necessary, made more resilient against cybersecurity threats.

Wegen en vaarwegen veiliger

Major consequences

The concrete assignment for Highberg from RWS is: ensure the implementation of cybersecurity management processes for the (moveable) objects of RWS. Because of its size and scale alone, this is a particularly interesting assignment, since the Netherlands has more than four hundred locks, bridges, tunnels and pumping stations managed by the Dutch Department of Public Works. All these objects are visited and examined in order to provide a balanced and complete advice. Highberg is responsible for the changes in the field of cybersecurity management processes and the role human actions have in them. 

"By now, many objects have already been scrutinized by us," says management consultant Koos van der Spek, who is involved in implementation from Highberg. "When I drive along the national highway now, I look at the objects along the road in a completely different way than before. I have great admiration for the people who maintain and operate the bridges, locks and pumping stations. You don't see how much work it is until you've been right on top of it yourself." 

Personal approach

As part of the program, the technical aspects are scrutinized on the one hand, and on the other hand the management processes and the attitude of the people who work with the objects. "Experience has shown that eighty percent of security is in the hands of people," says Koos van der Spek. "If you make sure that people - the bridge operator, the lock master, but also the managers - are aware of the risks, then you have already gained a great deal. We therefore organize cybersecurity awareness training on the shop floor at every object. This personal approach ensures a lot of support for the introduction of changes." 

In addition to improved security, the program also leads to Rijkswaterstaat employees being deployed more efficiently, resulting in better management of ICT facilities. "It also benefits economic interests and citizens. Transport and logistics in the Netherlands and citizens can rely on safer roads and waterways and on fewer delays due to a lower chance of breakdowns. We are proud that Highberg was able to set up such a large and complex project well and be successful in it." 

The consultants

Management consultant Koos van der Spek has more than thirty years of experience in information security, cybersecurity and business continuity. He has been with Highberg for over sixteen years and is project manager/advisor on this project. Change management also plays a role here: how does that change an organization, what impact does it have on its employees? But also the other way around, what ambitions are there and how can you use IT to achieve them? IT is not only about technology, but also about organizational structure, processes and people. Topics that all play a role in this assignment. 

Want to know more about this assignment or the subject of cybersecurity? Please contact Koos van der Spek