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Cyber attack plan aims to protect State hospitals, energy networks and security systems

The new strategy sets out how to ensure the State’s infrastructure and computer networks are “resilient, safe and secure”.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A NEW PLAN to crackdown on cyber-crime, hacking and cyber-espionage has been published in a bid to protect the State. 

The new National Cyber Security Strategy sets out how to ensure the State’s infrastructure and computer networks are “resilient, safe and secure”. 

It contains proposals on how the Irish government can respond and manage cyber security incidents.

“We must ensure our critical national services – our hospitals, schools, enterprises, energy networks and security systems are protected from malicious online forces and are well placed to respond to threats,” said Communications Minister Richard Bruton. 

TheJournal.ie previously reported that there have been several cyber attacks on government departments over the years, some of which never made it to the headlines. 

Former Communications Minister Denis Naughten said the attacks occur quite frequently.

“There have been attacks in the past, they are quite frequent. Some of them hit the public airwaves, many more don’t. They come from various different sources across the globe and this is something we have to be continually vigilant on,” he said, speaking to this website in 2017 when he was still minister.

The most recent White Paper on defence published by the government also found that cyber threats were increasing.

The strategy published today also plans for how to manage any disruption to services as a result of such attacks, as well as developing the cyber-security sector here in Ireland. 

Deliberate actions by organised groups, including other countries, who seek to subvert or compromise systems of the State for a range of reasons is a real threat, according to the report.

These attacks could take the form of theft or destruction of data or money and the physical disruption or destruction of services or infrastructure, it states. 

One of the more challenging issues to emerge in recent years has been the active use and
refinement of hybrid threats, which the report states are the so-called “hack and leak” incidents. 

The most common of which is the use of cyber tools to steal information for subsequent use in disinformation campaigns.

“By their nature, these campaigns are designed to be difficult to detect, and because of their explicitly political goals, even more difficult for public authorities to counteract.
 
“As an open liberal democracy, Ireland is vulnerable to campaigns of this type in much the same way as other EU Member States,” states the plan. 

While dealing with national security issues, the plan also sets out how to educate citizens and businesses about how to protect themselves against cyber threats and fraud. 

Cyber crime incidents in Ireland are increasing with 61% of Irish organisations reporting to have suffered cyber crime such as fraud in the last two years with an estimated loss on average of €3.1 million. ​

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Bruton said that we live in an increasingly interconnected world, adding:

“Ireland has benefited hugely from the digital revolution but we need to make sure there are robust measures in place to protect our national infrastructure against the risks posed by new technology. Cyber-attacks, cybercrime and identity theft can wreak havoc in this connected world.”

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