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For confidence online

That is our goal, a carefree and promising digital existence for everyone. We've set out our impact in the fields of economic growth, internet security and stability, and digital inclusion. Scroll down to look at the individual impact fields.

Our impact...

Privacy-friendly digital identities

In everyday life, people are frequently asked to share personal data: when buying alcohol, going to a movie, getting medical treatment, accessing public services, and in many other situations. Often, we share more than we really need to, without even realising. So there's a growing need for identity solutions that protect consumers' privacy. IRMA stands for I Reveal My Attributes. It's a platform that enables people to easily and securely log in, identify themselves and give authorisation online. The free IRMA app lets users fetch their own identity 'attributes' using their smartphones, and then reveal or share only the necessary attributes with online service providers and others who request their details. No personal data is saved centrally or anywhere except the user's phone.

Bart Jacobs, Professor of Computer Security at Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen and Chair of the Privacy by Design foundation: "The structural and operational partnership with SIDN is strategically important for IRMA. Although IRMA attributes are stored on the user's phone, rather than on a server, the IRMA platform does have a modest central backbone that is used for registering new users and protecting cryptographic keys. That backbone is now operated by SIDN, assuring high levels of reliability, availability and continuity. IRMA is now 'powered by' SIDN!"


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'Do more with your .nl'

The Dutch business community's confidence in their national internet domain has enabled .nl to become the biggest internet domain in the Netherlands, and one of the biggest in the world. In June 2020, we passed the milestone of six million registered domain names, as pandemic-related restrictions prompted many businesses to turn their attention to the internet. Nevertheless, many registered .nl domain names remain unused. We therefore launched a campaign to encourage the active use of dormant domain names. The campaign highlighted the many potential uses of a domain name. As well as getting three million views, the campaign spun off a fascinating series of feature articles. Published on www.sidn.nl, each article in the '.nl in the spotlight' series profiles a .nl business startup with the aim of inspiring others.


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Start your dream!

Starting your own business isn't easy. Before you register with the various authorities, you need to produce a good business plan. That's never easy, but it's an even bigger hurdle if you're new to the country. Especially if you come from a place where going into business is just a question of getting on with your chosen trade. And if your Dutch isn't yet quite up to the required level. So what's the answer? NLbiz.nl has teamed up with a regional refugee support charity to develop a staged plan for people whose Dutch is at the so-called 'NT2' level. A would-be entrepreneur answers fifty simple questions, which are automatically turned into a business plan written in Word. SIDN Fund is supporting this positive initiative, helping to improve opportunities for new arrivals while also promoting enterprise.


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.nl suggestion tool

A couple of years ago, we added a .nl suggestion tool to our website. The tool helps people find good domain names, even if their first-choice name is already taken. A smart suggestion tool tells the visitor about available alternatives that are similar to their first-choice name or match their stated preferences. The set-up helps visitors to find a suitable domain name and a suitable registrar. It also provides our registrars with thousands of leads a month.

From farm to fridge

One of the initiatives supported by SIDN Fund is Fairfood's Fairtrace project. Using modern technologies such as blockchain, it's now possible to trace our food 'from farm to fridge'. Fairfood aims to promote ethical and transparent food supply chains and has spent the last eighteen months testing various technologies in various supply chains. With support from SIDN Fund, Fairfood has built its own tool, because the systems already available tend to be too restrictive, too opaque or too expensive. The new tool is freely available to smaller food brands – many of which are social enterprises – enabling them to trace their products and verify food claims.


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Working together on the .nl domain

If you want to register a .nl domain name, you can arrange it through one of nearly 1,200 .nl registrars. The registrar community is a large and varied group of enterprises represented by the Registrars' Association. The Association's Board and committees are key discussion partners for SIDN in relation to the .nl domain. We work constructively together on a wide range of topics. For example, we made it easier to find and register domain names by adding a suggestion tool to sidn.nl and improving the way that visitors are put in touch with registrars. The system is generating a healthy flow of leads for registrars, while also helping people and businesses to find and register good domain names. And, together with the registrars, we've been able to cut .nl's levels of phishing, malware distribution and other malicious practices even further. Through our Registrar Scorecard programme, we incentivise registrars to keep building the quality and security of the .nl zone. The successes we've achieved together include substantial growth in the number of .nl domain names in active use, and in the adoption of security standards such as DNSSEC, DMARC, SPF and StartTLS. The programme has also boosted support for IPv6. It's thanks to those efforts that .nl remains one of the world's biggest and most secure country-code domains and the go-to domain for the Dutch business community.

New forms of enterprise

We established SIDN Fund in 2014. Since then, the Fund has made grants to nearly three hundred innovative internet projects that can make a real difference. Projects with verve, disruptive potential and social value, which don't have obvious alternative sources of funding. In fields such as education, care, sustainability and security. Or introducing new forms of enterprise, new business models and new ways of working that benefit the whole community. Each year, the Fund makes a call for major project proposals, attracting widespread interest. And applications for smaller grants can be made all year round. One project supported by the Fund is Fairtrace, which promotes ethical and transparent food supply chains. With a grant from SIDN Fund, Fairtrace is working on a tool that will enable even relatively small food brands – many of which are social enterprises – to trace their products and verify food claims.


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Development of a 'responsible internet'

Modern societies are increasingly dependent on internet services. Yet people and organisations have less and less insight into or control over the way their data is handled by the underlying systems, or over who generates and manages data about them. To help solve the problem of declining 'digital autonomy', SIDN Labs has linked up with colleagues at the University of Twente, the University of Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology, Wolfson College, Oxford University, NLnet Labs and Eindhoven University of Technology to develop the concept of a 'responsible internet'. The new concept involves a fundamental change to the internet infrastructure, providing users with new levels of insight into and control over their internet communications, especially in relation to essential services, such as smart energy grids. Although the concept presents numerous challenges and will require broad, multidisciplinary dialogue amongst stakeholders such as researchers, citizens, system operators and policy-makers, we believe that a new approach is vital for future-proofing the internet.


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SIDN Academy shares knowledge about internet standards

General adoption of secure, modern internet standards is vital for internet security and stability. However, not all companies have the in-house know-how needed to implement such standards. We're therefore working to reduce that problem – and promote adoption – by sharing our knowledge through the SIDN Academy. We've already organised several successful offline SIDN Academy sessions on e-mail security standards and IPv6, which were well attended and well received. We've now expanded the Academy's offering with an online learning platform. E-learning modules on e-mail security standards are already available from the platform, and registrars will soon have access to modules on the DNS, DNSSEC and IPv6 as well.


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Report desk for child porn in chat groups

We've been one of the main backers of the Reporting Hotline for Internet Child Pornography for some years. Sadly, in addition to the normal flow of reports about internet content, the Hotline has seen an upturn in reports about child pornography in chat groups, which are outside the organisation's traditional field of expertise. In 2020, therefore, SIDN Fund supported the creation of a special report desk for child porn in chat groups, in order to facilitate intervention. The Hotline is now actively working to prevent further distribution of such material on the public internet and to assist police investigations. People who report chat room abuse are given digital stickers for labelling material as undesirable within chatgroups.


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Ethical hacking to make the internet more secure

The Dutch Institute for Vulnerability Disclosure (DIVD) is making our digital world more secure by scanning the internet for vulnerabilities in digital systems and reporting detected issues to the system operators, so they can be fixed. DIVD is a voluntary organisation, through which investigators pool their skills to trace and address vulnerabilities. The organisation was active in connection with the Citrix server issue that came to light in early 2020, for example. DIVD has also drawn up rules for handling sensitive information and runs training courses for young investigators. It's additionally committed to forging ties with other organisations that have vulnerability resolution capabilities. Support from SIDN Fund is enabling the organisation to further professionalise its activities.


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Promotion of internet standards

We believe that the adoption of secure, modern internet standards such as IPv6, DNSSEC, DMARC, DANE and StartTLS is very important. Their use improves the security and stability of the internet and e-mail. As well as contributing to the development of new standards through active involvement in the various IETF working groups, we promote the adoption of existing standards. For example, we offer .nl registrars financial incentives for configuring the domain names in their portfolios to support the standards. We also smooth the way for adoption by sharing knowledge through webinars, articles on our website and online and offline SIDN Academy courses.


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Fake webshops taken off line much sooner

We have a proactive policy on fighting fake webshops: scam sites that trick consumers into placing orders, but supply shoddy counterfeit goods or nothing at all. The scams are a real problem for many internet users, so we work hard to stop them. For example, SIDN Labs has developed software that looks at new registrations and aims to predict whether each domain name is going to be used for a fake webshop. The team has also created a Fake Detector that identifies suspicious domain names. FaDe decides whether a domain is suspect by looking at ten attributes, including the registrar and the network hosting the associated website. If a domain is confirmed as a scam, our abuse team takes immediate action to get it shut down. And the policy is getting results: a large number of fake webshops have been taken off line.


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Secure public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi connections aren't secure: hackers and cybercrooks can easily intercept the data you send and receive. Publicroam wants to change that and enable everyone to use public Wi-Fi easily and securely, without compromising their privacy. Users will simply have to register once to always have secure access to a safe and reliable Wi-Fi network when visiting places such as government buildings, hospitals, museums, libraries, hotels, bars and restaurants. Because a secure connection is always advisable when exchanging sensitive information, the project will investigate the feasibility of offering Publicroam users a low-threshold, user-friendly and secure VPN. SIDN Fund is supporting the initiative, which won a Dutch Privacy Award at the start of 2020.


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IPv6-incentive

We're promoting adoption of IPv6

IPv6 is the successor to IPv4, the established internet addressing protocol. A new protocol is needed for the simple reason that the internet is now so big that there just aren't enough IPv4 addresses to give every connected device a unique ID. The shortage has been causing problems for a while. Migration to IPv6 is vital, but progress in the Netherlands has so far been slow. We are therefore offering financial incentives to registrars in an effort to generate momentum. And the policy is getting results: the number of IPv6-enabled domain names has increased significantly since the incentive was introduced. We've also undertaken a survey of IPv6 adoption in the Netherlands to improve understanding of the current situation.


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National Anti-DDoS Coalition

Services provided by the government and others are often affected by DDoS attacks. It's a worrying situation, because the attacks are becoming bigger and more complex. That's partly down to the rise of the Internet of Things, which is creating a much bigger pool of devices that miscreants can potentially compromise and use in attacks. In 2018, we therefore joined the University of Twente and SURFnet in calling for a proactive, collective anti-DDoS strategy for the Netherlands' vital infrastructure. The National Anti-DDoS Coalition – a consortium of seventeen Dutch organisations from various sectors (including ISPs, banks, government bodies and law enforcement agencies) – has therefore been created to fight DDoS attacks. One outcome is establishment of the DDoS clearing house, a technical facility that enables coalition members to automatically gather and share the identifying characteristics of attacks, such as duration and source IP addresses.


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Abuse prevention

We work with registrars and hosting service providers to fight phishing and malware in the .nl zone. In recent years, the average lifetime of phishing sites and malware distribution sites has been cut dramatically, from 144 hours to about twenty-one at the end of 2020.


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Man with Hat
Benno Overeinder

Open-source name server software

“The development of open standards and the implementation of open-source software for DNS name servers are vital for the internet's security and stability. NLnet Labs plays an active, independent role in the standardisation of protocols and the implementation of DNS software. The foundation also advises on secure and stable DNS and inter-domain routing infrastructure. SIDN's support helps to safeguard the continuity of NLnet Labs and enables us to go on performing our unique and globally acknowledged role.”


Benno Overeinder
Directeur NLnet Labs


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arrow right Collaboration between ECP and SIDN

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Active in forums worldwide

We play an active role in various important international forums for internet technology, governance and security. As the registry for one of the world's biggest and most secure country-code domains, we play a lead role on many relevant issues. In 2018, we again participated in numerous national and international meetings, often contributing to the programme content and helping to organise several events.

Accessible apps for everyone

Using an app or accessing a website on your mobile is significantly harder if you have impaired vision. A screen reader can read out the written text, but in practice many users are unaware of many of the reader's capabilities. As a result, blind and partially sighted people often don't make full use of apps and websites. Now an accessibility training app ('APPT') is being developed to help blind and partially sighted people, occupational therapists and app developers get to know and make use of all the functionalities and gestures of screen readers. SIDN Fund is supporting the project.


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Accessible voting assistance

In our society, the right to vote is fundamental. Everyone should therefore be able to make informed decisions about who to vote for. Including people with less developed digital and literacy skills, and those with mild mental disabilities. Finding and managing relevant information can be difficult for such people, with adverse consequences for engagement. So, with SIDN Fund's support, Kieskompas ('Election Compass', an online voter assistance service) has linked up with a foundation called Leer Zelf Online ('Teach Yourself Online') to develop an Accessible Election Compass. By integrating the Steffie avatar, the main political issues of the day and the positions of the political parties are explained in clear language. Users can also see which parties best match their own views.


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Accessible video player for an inclusive, accessible internet

Videos combine image tracks and soundtracks, with each contributing equally to the telling of the story. However, the Netherlands is home to 350,000 people with impaired vision and 1.4 million with impaired hearing. Such people are missing at least half of the message of any video that doesn't have subtitles or audio description – which means most of the videos out there. With support from SIDN Fund, Scribit.pro is therefore developing a freely downloadable video player that meets online accessibility standards. The video player will allow viewers to enable or disable supporting files on all devices.


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HackShield

For children growing up today, the internet is an integral part of everyday life. They aren't inclined to think of it as dangerous. Yet cybercrime is the fastest growing form of crime and looks set to keep rising as connectivity between people and gadgets increases. What's more, scams often now target individual internet users. So how can we make youngsters less vulnerable? HackShield is a game for children aged ten to twelve, which playfully promotes awareness of cybercrime and its impact. Developed with support from SIDN Fund and others, the game uses the MediaMasters platform to reach an audience of at least 160,000 youngsters. In 2019, HackShield won a Computable Award as ICT Project of the Year in Education.


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accessibility

Access for people with impaired vision

Nearly all our information comes from the internet. What challenges does that pose for people with impaired vision? They want to use the internet like everyone else, but many services that most people take for granted don't work with a screen reader (software that reads out website content). Supported by SIDN Fund, Enrise is developing the Continuous Accessibility Checker: a tool for checking during the test phase how accessible new software is for people with impaired vision. Using the tool, developers will be able to see at an early stage whether a website design is going to create accessibility problems.


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Live transcription for people with impaired hearing

The Netherlands is home to more than 1.3 million people who are deaf or hard of hearing. And many hearing-impaired people experience problems in day-to-day life. Without an interpreter, it's very hard for them to spontaneously strike up a conversation or get to know new people. AmberScript is therefore developing a Dutch-language speech recognition app for smartphones, capable of turning speech to text in real time. The app will be free to use for people with impaired hearing, helping them to break down communication barriers and interact with others more easily. It's a great initiative, which SIDN Fund is thrilled to support.


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Opportunity creation

The internet creates opportunities for everyone. A good example is Cyberwerkplaats ('Cyber-workplace'), one of the projects supported by SIDN Fund. It's a non-profit initiative aimed at tackling the shortage of cybersecurity experts. Free tuition is given to talented youngsters aged fifteen to twenty-five who have dropped out of education, or are at risk of doing so. The scheme reaches out to school-leavers, gamers and others, provides tuition and matches them with employers. Other examples of the indirect contribution we make to equality of opportunity in the internet world include the Creative Tech Academy and Hack Your Future.


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SIDN in 2020

Downloads

Want to know more?

Download the full text of our annual report and financial statement in PDF format.

> Annual report 2020
> Financial statement 2020

With thanks to

Our sincere thanks go to Benno Overeinder and Marjolijn Bonthuis for their cooperation.

© SIDN

Text and figures from this report may be reproduced, but we ask that you let us know of your intentions in advance by mailing communicatie@sidn.nl and that you credit us as the source.


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