Cyber Security Coalition: joining forces against cybercrime

Published on 10/09/2021 in Inspire

A linear security response to the exponential growth of cybercrime is not enough. That’s the message that the Cyber Security Coalition wants every business to hear.

Cyber Security Coalition: joining forces against cybercrime

The Cyber Security Coalition was founded in 2015 with a clear goal: to strengthen the resilience of Belgian organizations against cybercrime. The coalition does this by developing a national ecosystem that companies, academic partners and government institutions can join. The members build skills together, exchange information, and share experiences.

Exchange of experience

“As a member of the Cyber Security Coalition, you make a clear commitment,” says Operations Manager Cathy Suykens. “You actively contribute to the exchange of experience and you do so without a commercial purpose.” In this way, membership of the Cyber Security Coalition also says something about the members themselves. “First of all, they gain new insights, thereby raising the level of their own cybersecurity. They are also informed more quickly in the event of incidents or possible threats. But equally, membership signifies a clear sense of social responsibility.”

When there was recently a security problem at a large IT supplier, specialists from that company personally came to share information and explanations with one of our focus groups.

Christian Mathijs, Cyber Security Coalition


First-hand information

An important part of the Cyber Security Coalition’s activities is raising awareness. One of the ways the coalition does this is via national campaigns, in which the members themselves help to get out the message. This year, for the first time, the coalition is organizing a campaign called the Cyber Personality of the Year. The goal is to put the role of the cyber expert in the spotlight. And this really is necessary. There are far too many vacancies in the field of cybersecurity in our country that just don’t get filled.

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Within the coalition, members exchange information and experiences in around 10 focus groups. “We offer a unique formula,” says Business Development Manager Christian Mathijs. “It’s precisely because these are closed sessions that the members receive a lot of confidential information first hand. When there was recently a security problem at a large IT supplier, specialists from that company personally came to share information and explanations with one of our focus groups.” This is one of the major benefits for the members of the coalition: the lines to the correct information sources are usually very short.

In addition, the Cyber Security Coalition also shares information with the entire business world. “For example, our security guidelines for SMEs are freely available on the website,” says Mathijs. A focus group led by Proximus is currently working on a general blueprint for security architects. “That information will also be publicly available.”

There is an exponential increase in cybercrime. Cybersecurity must provide an exponential response to that.

Cathy Suykens, Cyber Security Coalition


Everyone is a target

Although the Cyber Security Coalition was initiated by a number of large organizations, including the VBO, Belnet, KU Leuven and ULB, in addition to Proximus, all types of organizations are welcome. “Our members now include about 20 SMEs”, says Mathijs, “as well as hospitals, regional government services, and trade federations.”

And that’s just as well. Cybercriminals aren’t exactly picky: every organization is a potential target. “The demand for information remains high,” says Suykens. That’s why the Coalition is throwing its weight behind the Safe-on-Web app in order to create broad support for this new initiative of the Belgian Center for Cyber Security (CCB). “The app warns private individuals of possible dangers,” explains Suykens. “In the autumn, the CCB will launch a version aimed at companies.” Companies will be informed more quickly via the app about new phishing or ransomware attacks.


In any case, there’s still more than enough work out there for the Cyber Security Coalition – and for security specialists in general. “We are seeing exponential growth in the use of technology,” says Suykens. “But there is also a downside: an exponential increase in cybercrime. The classic, linear approach cannot compete with that. It’s high time for cybersecurity to provide an exponential response. That’s what we in the Coalition want to put on the agenda of companies and governments – and we want to keep it there.”

The Cyber Security Coalition is a unique partnership in which players from academia, public authorities, and the private sector join forces in the fight against cybercrime. Proximus is one of the founding members and an important driving force behind the Coalition. The Cyber Security Coalition currently has more than 100 members.

Christian Mathijs worked at Proximus for almost 33 years. Today he is Business Development Manager at the Cyber Security Coalition.

Cathy Suykens worked at KBC for 28 years. Today she is Operations Manager at the Cyber Security Coalition.


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