Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport

National Cybersecurity: Discussion

Photo of Gerry HorkanGerry Horkan (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank all our guests for being here. We consider this to be a relatively new area but, realistically, I am of an age that I remember movies such as "War Games" and "Die Hard", in which air traffic control systems were being taken down and nuclear missiles were going to be launched by ten- and 12-year-olds. This topic is not that new even though it is now on our doorstep to the extent that we are unable to find out the number of Covid-19 cases per day or get updates on the level of vaccination. We are not able to e-mail the HSE or the Department of Health in the way we normally would. Technology is everything to us now, as demonstrated by how this meeting is being conducted.

I am aware that Estonia became a very digital society when it became an independent state in the early 1990s. I do not know if it is an example of best practice in terms of combating cybercrime. Are there any examples we can follow? We will probably not hear about companies that do badly but are there companies or countries from which we can learn, that can tell us the way we should be going?

The conversation today has been useful in raising and outlining the expectations of these roles. The market is the market but the idea that somebody is going to be paid more than the Taoiseach in this role is probably something that Irish society in general will find a little difficult to process initially. However, the cost of tens of millions in lost revenue because of hijacking and the need to rebuild systems is much greater. However, one individual is not going to change this situation. Is there a roadmap? We can hire somebody and spend three, four or six months getting the best person in the world and paying them €250,000 a year or whatever it is, but what is the roadmap? The situation changes all the time and these criminals only have to be lucky once. We have brought our expert guests here today and I thank them for their statements. Where do we as a country need to go from here? It is obvious we need more people and training. There are 60,000 people involved in dealing with cybercrime on a daily basis in Ireland, a figure that surprised me. I am looking to our guests, as experts in the area, to tell me what we as a country need to do in the next month, the next six months and the next five years. We can spend and recruit more but what is the roadmap?


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