Ireland’s response to cybersecurity threats ‘pretty woeful’

Oireachtas committee to hear of infrastructural risks in wake of war in Ukraine

Ireland’s response to cyber-security threats has been “pretty woeful” over the last decade, politicians will be told on Wednesday.

Former Dublin City University academic Mike Scott is expected to make the accusation when he appears at the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications.

The committee will be examining the possible threats to Ireland's communications infrastructure following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Pat Larkin, chief executive of information security consultancy Ward Solutions, will tell TDs and Senators that his company has advised clients the war has brought "significantly increased risks".


In his opening statement, Mr Scott – who currently works in the cybersecurity field in Abu Dhabi – says the war in Ukraine has heightened the global concerns around cybersecurity.

‘Real-world damage’

“There is no Geneva Convention in cyberspace. Anything goes,” he says.

“Attackers can be hard to trace, and they often maintain a ‘plausible deniability’ relationship with their governments.”

He says that last year’s cyberattack on the Irish health service “demonstrated the real-world damage that can be done”.

Mr Scott will argue that Ireland’s cybersecurity response has been “pretty woeful” saying the country was not even mentioned in a 2012 study on the strategies of EU member states.

He says the State’s National Cyber Security Strategy 2019-2024 is “completely inadequate”, that the hacking of the Health Service Executive was a “wake-up call” and the response to it was “not at all impressive”.

‘Cyber militia’

In his statement, Mr Larkin says that, in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, his company has told clients of a risk of "increased cyber militia activity from both global and local activists, attacking Russia, Ukraine or western countries" as well as an increased risk of criminal activity.

He warns: "Out of the tragedy and adversity of the Ukraine invasion, where Ireland is not politically neutral, and previously the HSE cyberattack, where Ireland was at that time in a politically neutral state, we can now see that neither aligned nor non-aligned status offers us effective protection from nation state, militia or criminal cyberattacks."

The committee is also due to hear from representatives of the State's National Cyber Security Centre.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times