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Updated: Commissioner used private gmail account to discuss garda business

Reports at the weekend suggest that Nóirín O’Sullivan’s use of a private mail account for Garda business was compromised by a data hack in 2012.

3/11/2016. Garda Strikes Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Source: Leah Farrell

Updated: 16:55

GARDA COMMISSIONER NOIRÍN O’Sullivan used a private gmail account to discuss garda business, it was confirmed tonight.

A statement from the garda press office said she occasionally used the other email address “due to restrictions with the garda email system such as e-mail size and storage”.

The statement added: “The Commissioner occasionally used a gmail address to ensure that garda business has been discharged effectively.

At all times, there has been due regard to the sensitivity of any information being transmitted in this way. Such issues with the garda email system were identified by the Garda Inspectorate 2015 Report and are currently being addressed as part of the organisation’s mobility strategy.

The alleged activity emerged in a Sunday Times report yesterday which suggested the Commissioner’s private email account was compromised by a data hack of Dropbox (a cloud platform) in 2012.

But this evening’s statement said it is “standard procedure” for garda personnel to have gmail “accounts installed on these devices by garda ICT security personnel to ensure such devices are constantly secured and correctly configured”.

The garda spokesman added:. “The Commissioner takes all recommended security measures when using gmail such as regularly changing the password, using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols for the password, and independent device authentication.”

The Policing Authority has now confirmed in a statement that it will deal with the matter with gardaí this week:

“We are aware of news reports. However, we are not in a position to comment, as we have not received any information or statement about the matter from An Garda Síochána.”

We will follow this up with the Garda Síochána and brief ourselves during the course of the week.

The alleged theft of O’Sullivan’s login details was not confirmed until August of this year.

It is against Garda regulations to use such commercial email accounts for official business.

Yesterday’s report suggests that O’Sullivan’s private email included a signature detailing her name and rank, and that her username (which was not disguised) and password are included on a list of such data posted online.

“An Garda Síochána is satisfied that the Commissioner’s devices are secure and are not compromised,” a Garda spokesperson said this morning in a statement.

An Garda Síochána has strict security controls in relation to the use of and access to Garda IT systems. Devices issued to the Commissioner are secured by secure connections and utilise strong encryption technologies.

The spokesperson added that access to the Garda PULSE database is “segregated by secure containers which do not store any Garda data on the device”.

“This is coupled with strong user password policies and strong authentication,” they added.

O’Sullivan ascended from the rank of Deputy Commissioner following the resignation of Martin Callinan in early 2014. She was officially confirmed as Garda Commissioner in November of that year.

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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