Research by Reporter Radio shows that nearly 900 Dutch companies are vulnerable to a dangerous leak in the Fortigate VPN. This is a vulnerability comparable to that of VPN, Pulse Secure, which De Volkskrant reported on Saturday. The leak is a serious security risk for companies and institutions in the Netherlands.

The radio program, together with IT security company ESET Netherlands, investigated the leak at the Fortigate VPN, where, just like at Pulse Secure, a dangerous vulnerability was discovered in March this year. The study revealed a list of nearly 900 Dutch companies whose systems are vulnerable due to the leak.

Users can work remotely via a secure connection via the VPN network. Because of the vulnerability, malicious parties can gain access to this network and access sensitive data or install software on systems themselves.

The vulnerability was corrected by Fortinet in May with an update, but the report by Reporter Radio shows that 900 companies have not yet installed the update. For security reasons, the list of companies cannot be shared, but according to the program it concerns many IT companies, healthcare institutions, educational institutions and a listed company.

The vulnerable companies have been reported to the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC). The NCSC issued a security recommendation in August regarding the vulnerability in Fortigate's software and assessed the vulnerability as very dangerous, partly because the vulnerability is being actively used by malicious parties to enter companies. The NCSC is going to warn central government organizations that are vulnerable to the leak after reporting the radio program.

SMEs are extra vulnerable due to a leak

According to the director of ESET Netherlands, Dave Maasland, there are also many SMEs on the list of vulnerable companies. According to Maasland, these are extra vulnerable "because in practice it appears that these companies do not have their IT security properly in order at all." This allows malicious parties to do more damage if they come in through the vulnerability in the VPN connection.

Large institutions can also be vulnerable through small companies. Last week, it appeared that Chinese hackers tried to attack aircraft manufacturer Airbus via contractors. This is also possible with the leak in the Fortigate VPN, for example via the IT companies that used Fortigate and did not install the update.