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RTÉ on alert for cyber attack after delivery of two suspicious packages

Staff warned somebody could be trying to send a malicious virus into the organisation

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RTÉ is on high alert for a possible cyber attack after two suspicious packages were delivered to their regional offices this week.

Staff have been warned that they could be targeted by fraudsters sending them SD cards which might contain malicious software.

The Irish Independent understands a message was sent to journalists highlighting two incidents of concern in recent days.

Two “suspicious packages” were delivered to RTÉ offices in Waterford and Cork.

“The packages are letter sized envelopes containing a piece of card with a SD card sellotaped on to the card.

“This could be someone trying to send a malicious virus into the organisation on hope that someone will insert the card into a RTÉ device,” the warning to staff said.

The email included a photograph of a red and white SD card, which is a memory device often used for storing images, taped to a piece of white card. The envelope sent to the Waterford offices was processed at a mail centre in Dublin.

When asked the incidents, a spokesperson said: “RTÉ does not comment on security or cyber security matters."

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A gardaí spokesperson said that at this stage he is not aware that the packages have been referred to the force for investigation. 

The risk to RTÉ from cyber criminals was noted in a Cabinet memo discussed by ministers earlier this month after the war in Ukraine began.

The memo highlighted a fear that the national broadcaster could be targeted in retaliation for the economic sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

These included banning Russian state media from broadcasting across the EU and on social media platforms.

Arts Minister Catherine Martin has said her department was liaising with RTÉ to ensure it could continue broadcasting in the event of a cyber attack.

The memo said RTÉ had built “resilience into their systems” to protect against attacks.

At the time, RTÉ said it was in regular contact with the department and added it was “subject to cyber attacks on an almost daily basis”.

“Over the last couple of years, RTÉ has introduced extra security controls to increase its protection against hacking attempts, and we continue to monitor for potential attacks on a daily basis,” a spokesperson said.

A cyber attack crippled the HSE computer system last year and is still having knock-on affects.

The health services was forced to shut down its IT systems after what was described as a “significant” ransomware attack. Hackers had demanded money in return for the rebooting of the system – but the Government insisted it would not pay.

Latest figures estimate the attack has cost the HSE almost €43m. HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said the final bill could reach €100m.

Around €12.7m has been spent on ICT infrastructure, €5.5m on cyber/strategic partner support, €15.3m on vendor support for applications and €8.4m on Office 365.


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