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 James O'ConnorJames O'Connor (Cork East, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Above all else, what happened in regard to the HSE was shocking. I am not going to lay the blame at the feet of the Minister of State. He is relatively to the Department and many of these problems are historic. However, the country and the Oireachtas need to have a better understanding of the existential risks relating to Ireland's cybersecurity. It all comes down to why we were targeted, and it is very clear that we were.

It is because those involved saw an open goal. They saw this country as an easy place to come into and phish for people's personal data, by means of a ransomware attack, in the hope of securing a financial reward from the State to get our data back.

I am concerned by some of the Minister of State's remarks. I was listening to his earlier contributions on putting things into a degree of perspective in comparison with what other countries can do. The reality is that the Republic of Ireland is Europe's leading country for foreign direct investment in tech. We have tens of thousands of highly skilled individuals working in multinational tech companies - I will not go through them because there are too many to mention - that offer particular services, including in the area of cybersecurity. Quite a few of them are located in Cork, where I am from. Have the Minister of State or the Government engaged with some of our major fintech companies, especially those with expertise in encryption and cybersecurity, to ask for their advice and input in strengthening the State's ability to defend itself from foreign cyberattacks?


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