Cyber probe complicated by international links – Callinan
GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan has admitted that investigations into internet hacking are complicated by the international dimension of the crime.
He acknowledged that the involvement of criminals overseas meant the garda investigation was more complex and presented a major challenge to the force.
But he said that the gardai were no different to other police forces involved in investigating computer crime and every effort was being made to find those responsible for the scam involving Co Clare-based travel firm Loyaltybuild.
Officers from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, backed up by personnel from the computer crime unit, are spearheading the investigation into the cyber-raid which is now known to have taken place in the middle of last month.
They are also working closely with the office of the Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, who is carrying out his own inquiries.
Mr Callinan advised credit card users to be vigilant with their personal details and said there was also an onus on the company involved to protect that data.
"Companies have a responsibility as well, and they are supposed to have sufficient firewalls in place. But advances in technology are such that people will attempt to hack in, and we believe that's what probably happened on this occasion."
It was typical with cyber-crime that servers were based in jurisdictions outside where the investigation was taking place, he said. This aspect added to the "degree of difficulty and the complexity of the investigation".
He said it was up to those who believed their credit cards had been compromised as a result of the online attack on the Loyaltybuild firm to determine whether they should now destroy their cards and seek replacements.
But he pointed out that millions of credit card transactions were taking place every day without being compromised.
Mr Callinan was speaking at the force's six-monthly meeting of senior management at the Garda Training College, Templemore.
The conference is being attended by 44 chief superintendents, 11 assistant commissioners, a deputy commissioner, as well as civilian section directors.
Mr Callinan also said he welcomed the decision to begin garda recruitment again in the new year.
But he expressed his disappointment at reading apparent leaks of reports prepared for Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan into the State's handling of two cases in which children were removed temporarily from Roma families in Tallaght, Co Dublin, and Athlone.
He described some of the leaks as inaccurate but said he would not comment on the actions taken by the gardai until Ms Logan had completed her findings.