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Ibec calls for more funding to protect businesses following cyber attack

The call comes after a global ransomware attack on Friday which targeted businesses and state services across the world.

Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire

BUSINESS GROUP IBEC has called for increased funding to help protect businesses against cyber attack.

The call comes after a global ransomware attack on Friday which targeted businesses and state services across the world.

Among organisations affected by the international hacking onslaught were computer networks at hospitals in Britain, Russia’s interior ministry, the Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, the US delivery firm FedEx and many other organisations.

Ireland was mostly unaffected in the attack, with Communications Minister Denis Naughten telling TheJournal.ie yesterday that hackers had attempted to access the HSE’s internal network but had been unsuccessful.

A suspected case of ransomware occurred in a health care centre in Wexford, but the HSE confirmed that its IT system was not affected as a result.

Today, Ibec – which represents businesses in Ireland – called for increased investment in cybersecurity in the wake of the attack.

Erik O’Donovan, Ibec’s head of digital policy, said the group was liaising with the Communications Department in order to “monitor the situation for Irish businesses”.

“We advise extra vigilance regarding cyber security on the part of all organisations and their employees,” he said.

“Safeguarding the resilience of our digital infrastructure and economy is a key priority for business.

“Ibec has previously called for adequate resourcing of the National Cyber Security Centre and the implementation of a cyber security programme.

Government provided extra funding in this regard to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in Budget 2017 and in view of the increased threat we call for this funding to be increased significantly further.

Globally 

International investigators are hunting for those behind the cyber attack.

“The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits,” said Europol, Europe’s police agency.

Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was “specially designed to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation”.

US software firm Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe, and the attack was believed to be indiscriminate.

The companies and government agencies targeted were diverse.

The attacks used ransomware that apparently exploited a security flaw in Microsoft operating systems, locking users’ files unless they pay the attackers a designated sum in the virtual currency Bitcoin.

Images appeared on victims’ screens demanding payment of $300 (€275) in Bitcoin, saying: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

WWith reporting from AFP

Read: Suspected case of ransomware detected in Wexford health centre

Read: No reports of computer virus attacks in Ireland following global hacking >

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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