Officials to be questioned on cyberattack behind closed doors

Meeting was to take place in public but Department of Communications requested privacy

Officials from the Department of Communications and the NCSC will be questioned on the ransomware attack on the health service behind closed doors tomorrow morning. File photograph: iStock

Officials from the Department of Communications and the NCSC will be questioned on the ransomware attack on the health service behind closed doors tomorrow morning. File photograph: iStock

 

Officials from the Department of Communications and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will be questioned on the ransomware attack on the health service behind closed doors tomorrow morning.

It had been expected that the meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications Networks would take place in public and a statement was issued outlining how it could be watched online.

However, the Department of Communications has requested that the meeting be held in private.

An Oireachtas statement earlier quoted committee chairman Kieran O’Donnell saying the committee had requested the “immediate meeting” with the NCSC and looked forward to engaging with them “given the urgency of their ongoing work to repel these attacks and prevent future attacks”.

The meeting will still go ahead but members of the public will not be able to watch. 

A later Oireachtas statement said the meeting will be held in private following a request from the Department of Communications.

‘Sensitivity’

Mr O’Donnell said: “Whilst disappointing, given the sensitivity around the cyber attacks on the HSE and Department of Health systems, the Committee meeting tomorrow morning with the NCSC will now to be held in private.

“However, the Department has committed to officials from the NCSC coming before the Committee in public session shortly and we look forward to this further, comprehensive and public engagement.” 

 Sinn Féin’s spokesman on communications Ruairí Ó Murchú, who had requested the NCSC’s appearance at the committee in the wake of the cyberattack, said he would have preferred it to take place in public session.

He added: “I am still glad we’re able to deal with the issue and ask some of the questions but we need to ensure we can do this in public session as soon as possible so we can have full accountability.”

Prior to the announcement that the meeting would be in private he said he intended to concentrate on issues of widercybersecurity. 

He said the fallout from the attacks highlight the “urgent need” to evaluate the capacity of the NCSC and bodies it interacts with like the gardaí and Defence Forces “from the point of view of how threats and attacks are dealt with”.

Mr Ó Murchú said he also wanted the committee to deal with concerns in the public domain about the NCSC’s staffing, the lack of a director for the organisation and what he described as the agency’s “paltry €5m budget”.