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Ireland a soft touch for cyber attacks, say tech leaders

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Paradyn CEO Cillian McCarthy

Paradyn CEO Cillian McCarthy

Paradyn CEO Cillian McCarthy

Ireland has become a soft touch for cyber attacks, say nine out of 10 tech bosses.

Six months after a devastating attack on the HSE caused €100m of damage and unquantified health disruption, 91pc of senior IT security executives say that the state’s cyber security strategy is “not fit for purpose”.

Experts say that further attacks are now expected due to a lack of a “joined up approach”.

“The overwhelming majority of technology leaders believe more attacks on other public sector organisations are imminent,” said Cillian McCarthy, chief executive of Paradyn, the company that commissioned the survey among Irish IT decision makers.

“Worryingly, most also believe that our national cybersecurity strategy is not capable of meeting these growing threats.”

Last week, the Irish Independent revealed there are almost 30,000 computers with the outdated Windows 7 operating system still being used in the HSE.

Meanwhile, the country’s National Cyber Security Centre has still not appointed a permanent boss, a year after the job was first advertised.

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According to Paradyn’s survey of 105 Irish tech leaders, 97pc say that “other high-profile public sector bodies” will fall victim to ransomware attacks this year.

“Two thirds of respondents within the education sector believe they are not well prepared to combat cybercrime,” said Mr McCarthy. “With students now returning to schools and colleges across the country, we need to ensure the highest levels of cyber security in this sector too.”

The survey also claims that 17pc of Irish organisations have experienced a ransomware attack, while 59pc have suffered phishing attacks.

Last week, Ireland’s cyber security was branded as “a joke” by Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell at an Oireachtas Committee hearing.

Mr Craughwell was also critical of a lack of questioning over the alleged hacking of Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney’s smartphone. Mr Coveney, whose Department did not report the breach to the Data Protection Commissioner, has repeatedly declined to share any more details of the consequences of the breach.

“It’s imperative that all those responsible for securing government, business and citizen data take a more holistic and joined up approach, or further widescale disruption is inevitable in Ireland,” said Mr McCarthy, speaking about the survey results.

“We would strongly recommend that organisations here adhere to international best practices so that we’re not seen as a weaker link by cyber criminals.”


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