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

We are hearing a lot about reviews and reports. Time is against us on this issue. It is only a matter of time before we have another ransomware attack in the State. There is an onus everybody, including us on the committee, to try to assist in any way we can with our suggestions. I want to use the remainder of my time to be very clear that I think it is imperative as part of this review and report that the Minister of State engages directly with all of the available tech expertise in the private sector located in Ireland. They are here for many reasons, including for corporation tax in terms of their own enterprise and the business they do. That is their own business and that is fine. There is a service they could provide our State and surely there is sense in bringing them in now and asking them for their input to this review. That is important. I know the Minister of State said he has been engaging with the tech companies when I asked a couple of questions in that regard. That is a must.

Above all else is the encryption of people's personal data. This might seem boring to some but what happened is incredibly serious. Hackers were able to get access to people's personal data and intimate details relating to their personal health. They got people's addresses and other matters relating to their personal lives. That is extremely concerning and should be treated more seriously at the highest levels of Government, including in the Civil Service. I am not putting direct political blame on the Minister of State in that respect. He inherited this state of affairs. However, we do need to take proactive and urgent measures now.

I am asking the Minister of State to bring in the private sector leaders in encryption and cybersecurity. It would be no harm talking to tech multinationals and social media companies that have vast experience around coding and the encryption expertise required for improving the State's cybersecurity. Will the Minister of State please respond on those points?


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