Herb Prooy: Hacked

Herb Prooy thinks pride came before a fall at KPN and Cyber Security head quarters.

Now is not a good time to be Eelco Blok, CEO of KPN. He worked hard for the company and after finally stepping into the footsteps of his former boss Aad Scheepbouwer all he’s doing is apologising. Millions of times.

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Scheepbouwer, the man who saved KPN from going under with the help of the taxpayer and who quickly realised the way to a shareholders heart is through his dividends while not forgetting to top up his own bank account to the tune of €47m, that Scheepbouwer has left KPN a poorer place. Blok’s heritage is a shell, hollowed out technologically and vulnerable because of lack of maintenance.

In June 2011, Blok also became co chairman of the Cyber Security Council with fellow chairman Erik Akerboom, boss of the National Centre for the prevention of terrorism. Some months later the cabinet’s biggest computer noob, i.e minister Opstelten, was invited to declare the centre officially open.

The aim of both Council and Centre is to defend vital infrastructure from digital attack. It also provides, and volunteers, information to the government and private parties about relevant developments in digital security.


This much pretentiousness simply cried out for a reaction. Not long after the festive opening ceremony the Dutch division of Hackers Anonymous launched an attack on a prestigious link in the Cyber Security bulwark: KPN. It didn’t take them long. The attack came on January 12th but wasn’t discovered until the 20th. A week later the leak still hadn’t been repaired. Security service AIVD, the National coordinator for terrorism prevention and the police were all mobilised to stop this attack on Dutch sovereignty.

They naively thought that they could prevent the events from the press and the public, a move that earned them universal ridicule. Anonymous proceeded to hack into Babyboom and made off with email addresses and pass words. 500 KPN mail addresses were subsequently posted online as proof of a successful hacking exercise. KPN panicked and decided to go public on February 8. It effectively cut off 2 million users in order to implement a compulsory ‘pass word change’ procedure. As if that would help! It wasn’t how Blok intended it to be but this hacking shows clearly what Cyber Security is not all about.

Herb Prooy is an entrepreneur in the field of ‘software as a service’.