Covenant 'Melissa' Signed: Ransomware Prevention Partnership

04 okt 2023
Auteur: NCC Group/Fox IT

The Public Prosecution Service (OM), Dutch National Police, National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), ‘Cyberveilig Nederland’ and several other private parties* from the Dutch cybersecurity sector signed the 'Melissa' covenant, during the ONE Conference in The Hague. Melissa is a partnership between these public and private parties to combat ransomware attacks. The joint goal is to make the Netherlands an unattractive target for ransomware criminals.

First results partnership
The alliance involves the parties exchanging information with each other on a structural basis and sharing and discussing current developments more frequently. The Melissa covenant sets out the legal, organisational and technical arrangements of this partnership. The collaboration started back in 2021 and previously led to successful operations such as Deadbolt, Genesis Market and, most recently, Operation Qakbot. Results have also been achieved on the tactical front, such as the creation and sharing of statistics on ransomware attacks, published white papers Exfiltration v3.0 and Ransomware and best practices, for example.

Disruption of society
Ransomware attacks can disrupt our society: businesses are shut down, hospitals can no longer provide care, important personal data is stolen from municipalities or other organisations. This stolen data can be sold or used for other forms of (cyber) crime, such as identity theft. Moreover, our national security could be jeopardised if vital systems threaten to fail. Think of access to drinking water, electricity, the internet and payments that are essential to the daily lives of most people in the Netherlands. Thus, many people and organisations can become victims and the social impact of ransomware attacks is huge.

Vulnerability organisations
Many organisations think that they are not targets for ransomware attacks, for example because their data would not be of interest to criminals. The opposite is true: without proper digital security, everyone is vulnerable. It is therefore very important for our society that we join forces to fight this serious form of crime in a more targeted way, increase the chances of catching cybercriminals and reduce the chance of impact for victims.

Prevention is better than cure
To prevent ransomware criminals from striking successfully, it is necessary to secure systems properly. For instance, it helps to install a good anti-virus programme in addition to detection such as network monitoring. Also, a good disaster recovery plan and keeping software up-to-date can often prevent or limit a lot of suffering. The NCSC's website includes information on how to act preventively and what to do to limit the consequences of an attack. When individuals or organisations do fall victim to ransomware, it always makes sense to report it to the police as soon as possible. Reporting it helps to minimise the damage suffered, prevent new victims and track down criminals. How to report it and how to proceed can be found on the website

Growing the collaboration
The covenant is the starting point to build on the operational cooperation between the public-private parties on a structural basis. This is done from a single shared vision of working towards a digitally secure Netherlands in which parties are mindful of each other's interests. All parties are working hard on new products, knowledge sharing, more joint operations and ransomware/cybercrime publications for the benefit of the Netherlands' resilience.


* The covenant was signed by: 

  • The Public Prosecution Service (OM)
  • National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
  • Cyberveilig Nederland
  • Fox-IT (part of NCC Group)
  • Computest Security 
  • Data Expert
  • Deloitte
  • Fox-IT
  • Kennedy Van der Laan
  • NFIR
  • Northwave
  • Responders
  • Tesorion
  • Trellix

 Source: NCC Group (also in Dutch)

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