Cybercrime a ‘growing threat’ in Ireland, senior Garda says

Crimestoppers report reveals proportion of calls relating to illegal cyber activity

Assistant Garda Commissioner Derek Byrne. Mr Byrne said that cybercrime was one of the biggest emerging problems facing Irish households at the publication of the Crimestoppers annual report. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Cybercrime is one of the biggest emerging problems for Irish households, and people must take appropriate steps to secure their personal information, a senior Garda has said.

Speaking at the publication of the Crimestoppers annual report, Assistant Garda Commissioner Derek Byrne said a proportion of the 1,600 calls received by the confidential service last year concerned illegal cyber activity jeopardising the security of devices, data and banking information.

“People should be vigilant using their computers so that criminal enterprises don’t get the opportunity to infect their computers and monitise that infection,” Mr Byrne said.

“Sometimes people are not aware that they’re working on open networks, and that the criminal networks are out there seeking to infect and take control of their computers.”


Although gardaí are closely following technologies being developed by Europol's cybercrime centre and IT experts in University College Dublin, the rapidly-evolving nature of such activities means the threat remains prominent.

“Cybercrime is a growing threat; it’s a very fast-growing phenomenon. It reinvents itself every so often, as we’re closing in there’s people all the time inventing new methods and processes to infect.

“They’re educated . . . There are organised crime gangs involved in it, it has to be a dedicated network of criminals that set out to take your personal details.”

Mr Byrne said that An Garda Síochána’s online investigations have led to important detections globally, which in turn have led to convictions in other jurisdictions.

Crimestoppers calls

The Crimestoppers report outlined that an average of 138 calls are received each month on the dedicated phoneline, leading to information being gathered in the areas of drug dealing, sexual crimes and paedophilia, and the recovery of stolen goods.

Information received from the public in 2014 also helped to secure forensic evidence in the investigation of an attempted murder, while €25,000 worth of heroin, cocaine and cannabis was seized in Leinster following an anonymous tip-off.

Mr Byrne said: “Overall it’s a very, very good performance. We’re very happy with the level of usage. We can’t operate without the public, it’s a partnership. There’s no way we can conduct our business without working with the communities.

“There’s a huge emphasis on connecting to communities, connecting to victims and generally being there in communities and playing our part as a service provider.”

The Assistant Garda Commissioner also appealed to anyone with information on long-term missing persons cases to get in touch with the confidential service to help provide closure to affected families. Crimestoppers can be contacted on 1800-250025.