Thursday 18 July 2019

Daniel McDonnell: 'Storm over FAI cyber attack is another setback in attempts to try and rebuild trust'

(stock picture)
(stock picture)
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

At a time when its mission is to rebuild trust, a cyber attack on the FAI is a problem it could do without.

It's a serious matter which has also allowed Irish football's governing body to become a punchline again.

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The loss of data during a period when a number of investigations into the association's affairs are ongoing lends itself to that.

FAI insiders are adamant that this turn of events will have no impact on those enquiries.

They say the various bodies already have all the information they are looking for.

That said, we have also been told that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement probe could take years rather than months, so there's always a possibility of follow-up requests.

Again, it must be stressed that the FAI believes all emails will eventually be restored.

But there is an absence of absolute certainty around that, and the bigger issue is if sensitive information was maintained during a hacking attempt that clearly made some inroads if it succeeded in shutting down the server.

There's a danger in speculating on this subject but, while the FAI says that all ticket payments are handled by a third party, its internal emails would still contain an abundance of information about people involved in the game at all levels - including children.

Forensic scientists have been in situ since last Saturday, trying to get to the bottom of the problem.

Staff are unhappy with the fresh developments, following on from a couple of months of firefighting.

They didn't expect that firewalls would cause another headache. There is a feeling that the IT department should have been equipped for a scenario such as this, although recent history has taught us that hackers are able to outfox bigger and stronger organisations than the FAI.

We also have a recent sporting example with the 'Sunday Independent' reporting that cyber criminals stole a six-figure sum from Cricket Ireland as part of a sophisticated invoice redirect fraud.

They sent bogus bank details to a commercial partner and secured a payment.

The FAI says there are no parallels with that instance, and stressed there were no implications from a financial perspective.

It makes sense that this would be a different case, seeing as the FAI would be the last place to go looking for funds at the moment.

Income from sponsors has been frontloaded in recent years in an attempt to keep the show on the road.

One of the current missions for FAI staff is renegotiating commercial deals as part of that rebuilding process. Interim boss Noel Mooney is understood to have started work in that regard.

Bad news stories complicate the efforts to turn the page, and the Data Protection Commission's confirmation that it was only notified earlier this week is another misstep.

We can add it to the list.

Irish Independent

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