Tuesday 21 May 2019

Garda Commissioner admits using private email account to access files

Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Arthur Carron
Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

GardaCommissioner Noirin O’Sullivan has insisted that she took “all recommended security measures” when using a private email account to access files.

In a statement this evening, gardaí confirmed that due to restrictions on their email system relating to size and storage, the Commissioner “occasionally used a Gmail address” to ensure that Garda business has been discharged effectively

It said that at “all times” the information being transmitted was treated sensitively.

“It is standard procedure and an essential requirement that all Garda personnel with mobile devices have Gmail accounts installed on these devices by Garda ICT Security personnel to ensure such devices are constantly secured and correctly configured.

“The Commissioner takes all recommended security measures when using Gmail such as regularly changing the password, using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols for the password, and independent device authentication,” a statement from Garda HQ said.

The Policing Authority is expected to quiz Ms O’Sullivan over the controversy later this week.

Her statement noted that An Garda Síochána’s policy on email use dates from 2012 and does not take into account advances in technology since then such as the need for mobile devices to be associated with a commercial email address in order for them to be secured and configured.

The 2012 policy has recently been reviewed and a new policy is being finalised.

“An Garda Síochána has strict security controls in relation to the use and access to Garda IT systems.

“Devices issued to the Commissioner are secured by secure connections and utilise strong encryption technologies,” the statement said.

It noted that access to the Garda PULSE database, which records crimes, is segregated by secure containers which does not store any Garda data on the device.

“This is coupled with strong users password policies and strong authentication.”

The statement concluded: “An Garda Síochána is satisfied that the Commissioner's systems are secure and there is no evidence that they have ever been compromised.

The Commissioner is well aware of her obligations to protect national security and policing operations and would under no circumstances allow them to be compromised.”

Ms O’Sullivan will shortly submit a report on this matter to the Department of Justice and Equality, and the Policing Authority.

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