Holes in security video calls ministers: gathering information to view

security video calls

This article was last updated on June 6, 2024

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Holes in security video calls ministers: gathering information to view

Outgoing State Secretary Van Huffelen (Digital Affairs) will investigate a data leak at the central government’s meeting platform. She says that to Nieuwsuur. The reason is an investigation by a German journalist who was able to log into thousands of meetings of European governments. The Netherlands appeared to be the most vulnerable in her research.

In recent months, German journalist Eva Wolfangel was able to collect information relatively easily about thousands of video conferences of government institutions in several European countries. Some were also able to dial into meetings.

Government organizations and companies in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and France use the Webex software program for video meetings. The program is comparable to Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Parent company Cisco advertises Webex as particularly secure.

Nine recent meetings

Nevertheless, Wolfangel managed to collect information about a thousand meetings of the German government and more than ten thousand digital meetings of civil servants in the Netherlands. She told Nieuwsuur that she has retrieved information from nine recent meetings of Dutch ministers, including the topic of discussion and the date and time of the meeting.

Wolfangel says she didn’t actually dial into those meetings. Details about the content and who participates should also not be public. A software program like Webex should protect that information, Wolfangel says.

The Dutch meetings of ministers also included sensitive meetings, such as a consultation between ministers, feedback to the minister from an official meeting in Brussels and the preparation of a debate on crisis management. These are confidential meetings.


Information about a meeting about the ‘Monitoring and Security programme’ could also be viewed by the journalist. That program is about the protection of people against whom there is a threat.

Links to future meetings were also shown by Nieuwsuur this evening. The central government has not canceled the meetings, but has locked the information about the meetings with a password.

Research into size

State Secretary Van Huffelen says that Die Zeit has also collected data from meetings in which she herself participated. “We don’t know the extent yet. We will investigate that. Above all, we are very disappointed. The fact that you cannot work safely with this video system is not good. The supplier did not inform us of this.

In a letter to the House of Representatives, Van Huffelen reports that the vulnerabilities in the system have now been resolved, meaning that “this incident currently has no consequences for the use of Webex by the central government.”

Wiretapping scandal

At the beginning of March it became known that Russia had a video consultation of the German air force leadership bugged. Webex was also used at that meeting, but according to the German Defense Minister, one of the participants used an unsecured connection. Journalist Wolfanger sees no direct connection between this wiretapping scandal and her investigation.

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