Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport

National Cyber Security Centre Review: Discussion

Photo of Ossian SmythOssian Smyth (Dún Laoghaire, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

The Deputy is absolutely right. There is no intention to try to provide a central protection for all State bodies from 70 people working in Dublin who will offer some kind of centralised support across all these organisations. It has to be distributed. Most of the effort and work to protect people will have to happen in a distributed way at the site where people are trying to protect themselves, that is, at the hospital or at the school. That requires information, education and so on. To give the Deputy a concrete example, next month is European Cybersecurity Month and a programme of events has been planned, targeted at schools.

A new transition year module on cybersecurity has been developed and is being piloted this year in order that students in their fourth year of secondary school will learn those skills. The Garda also provides information to the public on protecting themselves from a basic cyber-hygiene point of view and on learning how to protect themselves from that kind of attack. The Deputy is correct that it has to be distributed and it cannot be done in a centralised way. It cannot work that way. There will not be somebody sitting in an office in Dublin protecting you from being attacked. It has to go out to the furthest leaves on the tree.

In my other role, I am extending broadband to every primary school in Ireland by the end of next year. I am well aware that Internet access for schools is a critical part of education and that schools need to be protected. They are educational facilities and are capable of upskilling and learning what they need to do to protect themselves from a cyberattack in the same way they learn to protect themselves from a fire or other natural disaster.


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