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Cyber Security | maintaining safe, secure, and resilient operations

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Cyber Security | maintaining safe, secure, and resilient operations is a top priority for the Dutch semiconductor industry.

By Piet Bel and Tom van der Dussen


Technology and digitization bring many advantages, but at the same time, it creates challenges, for example in the way cyber vulnerabilities are detected and managed. The semiconductor industry is an attractive target for cyber threat actors with a multitude of motivations, ranging from stealing companies’ intellectual property, sensitive data, and/or causing disruptions and harm. The scale and complexity of the cybersecurity risks are proving challenging for some organizations to understand, prioritize and act.

Reducing risks caused by cybercrime is complex and costly, however by working together we can reduce the complexity and cost for all of us. This is standard practice, that some companies and industries (such as banking, automobile, and aviation) are adopting, to protect themselves from the threats of the environment. These organizations collaborate as an ecosystem to reduce risks caused by cyberattacks and ransomware.

Therefore, we as the Dutch semiconductor industry can learn from the above-mentioned industries. Together we should pro-actively seek visibility into cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities. This means being open and proactive to collaborate between stakeholders including peers, multinational organizations, the research community, and other sectors. The High Tech NL cluster ‘Holland Semiconductors’ takes the initiative to address the issues that we as an industry face. That is regarding cybersecurity and how we together, as an industry should respond to the cybersecurity challenges and secure the Dutch semiconductor industry. We understand that whilst we compete on many subjects, we need to come to an agreement about how we can collectively secure our industry against the ever-growing number of cyberattacks.

ASML is one of the leaders in the semiconductor industry, willing to take the lead and offer their support in this initiative. As part of their Security Circles of Trust initiative, ASML offers to share security capabilities, best practices, knowledge, and insights. ASML is doing this on a not-for-profit basis with the main idea to protect the entire semiconductor ecosystem. ASML is also working closely together with their peers, universities, and the Brainport region, particularly along with the same vision: ‘together we can defend ourselves better.’

The objectives for working together are:

  • Protection of IP: we work closely and share sensitive information in our ecosystem. When information is not protected throughout the whole value chain, it can leak at the weakest link in the chain;
  • Ensure Business continuity: when one of the members of the ecosystem is affected by a cyberattack, it fails to deliver its contractual obligations. That can lead to cause supply chain problems downstream in the ecosystem;
  • Drive down operational costs: In addition to taking specific actions to improve security defenses, efforts are also oriented to reduce (or minimize) the costs of cybersecurity defenses. This will lead to more available resources for your true business and hence increase shareholder value;

The idea is to form a Cyber Security Circle of Trust for all members of High Tech NL, at first focused on the Holland Semiconductors cluster.
This Circle of Trust:

  • Consists of CISOs, CIOs, and IT Security managers.
  • Cultivates a transparent and trustworthy relationship, in which participants feel free to exchange sensitive cyber information, without any commercial intention, based on the Chatham House Rule.
  • Shares and develops methods on topics such as cyber incidents experienced in daily business, threats, vulnerabilities, and best practices to mitigate cyber incidents.
  • Organizes events and roundtable sessions to facilitate an open dialogue and share relevant information in a safe environment.

As a next step and to launch this initiative, we will set up an initial Advisory Group under the leadership of High Tech NL and ASML. That will be tasked to deliver a plan to implement a Security Circle of Trust in our Industry. We foresee that this Advisory group will be formed in the May / June 2021 timeframe.
The online follow-up session is scheduled for July 6, 2021, 16.00-17.30h.

For more information and/or to show your interest feel free to reach out to High Tech NL, we look forward to connecting with you soon.

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