Preventing a system hack: Former student secures ICT at Schiphol

Safety is the number one priority at Schiphol airport. That’s why there are so many checks before you can board a plane: at the luggage drop, passport control and security. But the ICT systems at the airport also have to be as safe as possible. You really don’t want any ill-intentioned people logging in. Former student Jean-Paul van Haastert has made it his job to make the ICT systems as safe as possible. At his workplace at Schiphol he is part of the Cyber Security team.

If we had to make a video clip of his work, what would we see? Jean-Paul: “Mostly a young guy in a lot of meetings. Normally in an office environment, but now from home via Teams.” Meetings about what? “About the ICT systems that we use at the airport and that facilitate air traffic. Systems in the air traffic control tower, the terminals, baggage handling, the fire department and more. When I meet with managers, we often talk about investments. But I also talk to users who want to know how a system works. Or I meet with my technical colleagues who want to know how to build such a system.”

As little risk as possible

“Schiphol is a vital organisation and you want to make sure all processes keep functioning. That is why we keep the risks as low as possible.” What could happen if mistakes are made? “We certainly don’t want that. So that’s why I have to make sure that everything goes well. That is why we need the right equipment to safely store IDs. And why we need smart software to also check these IDs.”

Physical security measures

“I completed the Information Security Management degree programme because I love the challenge of making ICT systems as safe as possible. You have to keep hackers out and at the same time make sure that staff members can continue to quickly and simply do their work. The physical security measures at Schiphol are very strong. So it makes sense that our digital systems are as safe as possible as well. That is my job and I love doing it.”

Jean-Paul works in Product Owner Identity and Access Management. “After my degree programme I worked at a bank for a while. After a few years, Schiphol contacted me via LinkedIn to offer me a job opportunity. I really liked the fact that they asked me.”

Safe and user-friendly

He has been working at Schiphol for over a year now. Are there any proud accomplishments yet? “Absolutely. When a service implements a new application at Schiphol and wants to make sure it’s safe, we have to provide a link. That takes time and effort. What I’m proud of is that I was often able to explain to the application owner how valuable the link is. For him, for the users and for the organisation. Valuable, because it will be safe and user-friendly. They also realised that and worked with me.”

Does he have the golden tip for a 16-year-old who doesn’t know if he should study Information Security Management? “Make good use of all the opportunities you have to take a look at the degree programme and visit companies.”

Would you like to learn more about our HBO-ICT degree programme? Click on the degree programme page for full-time or dual.