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Officials from National Cyber Security Centre to address 'urgent' meeting of TDs and Senators over HSE hack

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks meets this morning.

OFFICIALS FROM THE Department of Communications and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will appear before TDs and Senators today to field questions on the ongoing cyber attacks plaguing the HSE and Department of Health. 

The Joint Committee on Transport and Communication Networks will meet in private, at the Department of Communications’ request, at 9.30am to receive the latest update on the cyber attacks. 

The government has ruled out paying a ransom to the hackers who carried out the cyber attack, which continues to affect healthcare services across the country. 

In a statement last night, the government said it is taking a “determined and methodical approach to resolving the impact of the attack”, with the NCSC leading the efforts. 

It also described the ransomware attacks as “despicable crimes, most especially when they target critical health infrastructure and sensitive patient data”. 

Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú told The Journal that the committee had sought a meeting with the NCSC prior to the HSE hack after it had taken some time to establish whether that body fell under its remit.

He said that there were a number of questions to be asked alongside the matter of the recent cyber attack.

“It doesn’t have a director, has a €5 million budget and has a tiny staff,” Ó Murchú said. “We need to evaluate what the capacity of the NCSC is, along with how it interacts with gardaí and the Defence Forces to tackle these threats. We need to establish if it has the capacity to protect these systems.” 

Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, who heads the Oireachtas committee, said that he and members would have questions that should be urgently addressed by the NCSC.

He said: “Given the urgency of their ongoing work to repel these attacks and prevent future attacks, the Committee has requested this immediate meeting with NCSC and looks forwarding to engaging with them.

“The matters we will be raising and discussing with the NCSC include how these security breaches occurred, the strategy in place to fully repel the attacks and restore the normal operation of systems in the HSE and Department of Health and timescale involved, what is being done to secure other government departments and state agencies from similar cyber attacks, and the long-term strategy to deal with increased threats from cyber criminals and other hostile entities.”

Today’s private meeting is expected to be followed by a public meeting at a later date. 

O’Donnell said “whilst disappointing”, given the nature of the sensitivities around the cyber attacks, it would be held in private. 

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