Garda Cyber Crime unit head Michael Gubbins: 2016 is the year of ransomware

Nicola Anderson & Denise Calnan

Garda Michael Gubbins, Garda Cyber Crime Bureau at the Info Sec 2016 Conference in the RDS.
Garda Michael Gubbins, Garda Cyber Crime Bureau at the Info Sec 2016 Conference in the RDS.

Ransomware is rampant but companies are not reporting cyber attacks, the head of the Garda Cyber Crime unit has warned.

Detective superintendent Michael Gubbins has said that Irish companies do not come forward to report attacks on their computer systems and so the authorities are not able to share their experience with the wider community.

He said that 2016 "is the year for ransomware".

Delegates at the infosec conference on cyber security at the RDS hears that staff ultimately play a key part in keeping companies secure.

However Anthony O' Mara VP EMEA of Malware Bytes warned that: "if you're going to be stupid; you're going to be stupid" and few safety programmes can prevent you from being hacked.

Read more: Ten best quotes (from the experts) at Dublin Info Sec 2016

He said anyone can now be a criminal or start a phishing attack and while you need to have the right tools to prevent this, these only go so far in protecting you.

The conference heard passwords are the real point of weakness in the system and while efforts are being made to find a better solution of online protection, this is still some distance away.

Asked if the Garda Unit is sufficiently resources, Det Super Gubbins said the Commissioner has recognised that the unit needs to be built up and that "hopefully"  within two months, they will receive addictions resources.

Meanwhile, Vice-President of Security Research at Trend Micro, Rik Ferguson spoke about future trends at the conference.

A message that pops up on your TV screen and demands money to continue watching?

Or a note to your phone from your security camera: 'We recorded what you did in your living room - pay €10 to prevent us publishing it'.

This could be the future of home hacks, according to Ferguson

He said criminals are using social media, big data and cloud computing to their advantage.

His advice to companies was to start 'owning up' and researching for cyber security issues your business might have.