Case study



Wooncompagnie, the social housing company, is one of AWAREWAYS’ oldest and most loyal customers. We sat down with Michael van Iersel, Support Team Leader at Wooncompagnie, to ask him about his experiences with the partnership – including the recently completed Security Engine 2.

Information security at Wooncompagnie

“During my career here, online services and flexible working have become enormously important. For example, we went from a situation with Citrix and thin clients – where everyone was provided with a fixed workstation and fixed hardware – to a much more flexible interpretation with mobile workstations, where everyone can work from anywhere. A situation that is now much more self-evident, of course. This transition calls for a plan to bring information security to the attention of all employees. What are the risks, how do I deal with them? Through CorporatiePlein I came into contact with AWAREWAYS.”

Creative communication

The first step was to draw up an information security policy. Of course, that guideline also had to be available in ‘normal language’ to the actual user: all the colleagues who have to work with it.”

“In that communication, AWAREWAYS played an important role, including a translation of the formal documentation into accessible information, the posters with our Golden Rules, and other supporting campaign materials. Compliments also go to our own communications team, where this also landed very well.”

Strong together

“Since then, a wide variety of AWAREWAYS interventions have been deployed to keep the topic high on the agenda and in the collective consciousness.

  • We started with e-learning, with a general security awareness approach, followed by the other modules around, for example, strong passwords and phishing.
  • But we also got a masterclass from hacker Sijmen Ruwhof and social psychologist and founder of Awareways Maarten Timmerman.
  • We had the Awareways Mystery Guest on the floor. In combination with the deployed pentesters, you can think of all the components of information security: locks, wastebaskets, whiteboards – et cetera.”

“I am always very impressed by the creativity and passion with which Awareways builds its programs.”

Phishing simulation

“Also very successful was the campaign on the theme of phishing. In the run-up to a vacation period, we sent out an email with a so-called date picker – slightly misspelled – to plan a company outing. Those who were not sufficiently alert to that spelling error or the other signals of that fictitious message ended up on the informative landing page of that phishing simulation. ‘Oops, you accidentally clicked on a wrong email. Fortunately it was not real, but these are the risks and these are the signals.‘ We got a lot of positive reactions to that, and now we notice that people are aware of it, but also that suspicious messages are reported more quickly.”

Collective simulation

“We have recently gone a step further. We did a collective simulation under the guidance of AWAREWAYS. The way the ‘learning material’ was captured in gamification, and how it was reacted to among colleagues, that’s really inspiring. We also made a very nice introduction video for it, one starring our director. ‘We’ve been hacked, these are the steps we need to take now’. Finally we ended the message with ‘just kidding – but this could be real, which is why we are all going to work with the Engine’. That immediately got everyone’s attention, so they started working hard and it also became a battle between them to achieve high scores in the various phases of the Engine.”

Application of gamification

“The competitive element can be utilized even better. You did get a certificate at the end, and scores were compared, but because we all work at home a lot you miss the follow-up conversations on the office floor and the live interactions. I would also like to incorporate the certificates and the levels from Bronze to Diamond, so that we can determine who has achieved which level. So in 2021 we will be very happy to take the next step again, then with Engine 3, in which we will certainly include those extra elements.”

Who is Michael van Iersel?

Michael van Iersel has been working for Wooncompagnie for twelve years and has also been our regular contact since the very first collaboration, so he is obviously the right person to take a look back at the past few years. “We’ve been customers for so long, I don’t think you were even called AWAREWAYS during the first period,” says the Support Team Leader, laughing. He joined the company in 2008, then as a database administrator, and progressed through Team Leader Management and Head of I&A to his current position. Within Wooncompagnie Van Iersel is the designated security officer, responsible in essence for the entire umbrella of information security in the organization.

Want to know more?

Want to know what AWAREWAYS can do for your organization? Then get in touch with Arthur Timmerman.


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