“It’s vital to communicate about cyber security to the general public.” 

“I have been involved since the early days in the Cyber Security Coalition and am still an active member of the Awareness Focus Group,” Alexandre Pluvinage states. Today, he is Head of Fraud and Online security awareness at ING. “Our focus group is one of the oldest and largest in the Coalition. Our activities target almost everyone, and are relevant to all profiles from the business world. This differentiates us from most other groups, which generally have a defined target audience based on a specialisation, such as data protection or IT architecture, for example.”  

New playing field, same challenges 

The Awareness Focus Group manifests the Coalition’s main objective, as an organisation that facilitates knowledge sharing and cooperation in the field of cyber security, with a focus on professional life. “This means the organisation cannot serve a commercial purpose, in order to create the needed trust. Cyber security is and remains a sensitive topic. Openly discussing sensitive topics is only possible if a confidential environment is available,” Alexandre explains.  

This non-commercial character is more relevant now than ever. “In recent years, a lot of cyber initiatives with a commercial purpose have emerged. These can certainly be very valuable, and play an important role in increasing our country’s overall cyber security. But they serve an entirely different purpose, which highlights the Coalition’s uniqueness. So, we are very vigilant that our members do not come with commercial goals: we are working for the benefit of everyone.” 

Tackling opportunism  

The growth of the cyber security ecosystem in Belgium opens a lot of new opportunities, but, says Alexandre, it should still be seen primarily as a necessity. “Despite the many new initiatives, the challenges and priorities have remained largely the same. For instance, many SMEs still have not developed a clear cyber security strategy or incident response plan.”  

The potential added value of such a basic protection layer is big, as cybercriminals are increasingly targeting SMEs. “These are opportunists who plunge into online crime without much technical baggage, simply because it takes little effort. Consequently, it’s rather easy to guard a company or organisation against these criminals, with the proper application of some basic cyber security awareness principles, such as multifactor authentication or password management,” he continues. 

Podcast “The hacker, the fraudster and me” 

A decisive factor in this endeavour to improve protection is making clear that every individual has a role to play in cyber security. Alexandre Pluvinage: “This is precisely why – in addition to the initiatives for the professional world – we also need to communicate about cyber to the general public. That is the aim of safeonweb and safeonweb@work, for example, and is also the philosophy behind the podcast ”Le fraudeur, le hacker et vous/De fraudeur, de hacker en jij”, which I started together with my colleague Danny Moerenhout three years ago. In short episodes, we try to offer insights into the world of cyber security and risks, in an as accessible way as possible, including how it actually affects everyone. The overwhelmingly positive reception to such initiatives proves there is still a lot of ground to cover.” 

Initiatives that provide insight into cyber security risks always meet with a lot of approval, which shows the continued and significant need for them. The situation could be compared to a driving licence, which gives people insight into the risks associated with traffic. This doesn’t mean they will no longer take risks on the road, but it will help them better understand the added value of the highway code. 

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