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Putting cyber on the national agenda

A one-day conference next year aims to make cybersecurity a top priority for Government and State agencies as well as the private sector

Cybersecurity isn't simply the domain of IT experts, it's everyone's responsibility. That's the message that Slándáil, also known as the National Security Summit Ireland, will be trying to get across when it holds its inaugural event next year. As part of the summit, the non-profit group (which gets its name from the Irish word for security) will host a one-day strategic cyber conference that will see senior decision-makers across Government, the military, police and the private sector examine contemporary cyber challenges, as well as interrogate the Government's latest national cybersecurity strategy.

Director of Slándáil Dr Gerry Waldron says the summit will be a unique opportunity to discuss and debate cybersecurity issues, as international experts will sit alongside Irish cybersecurity thought-leaders to assess efforts to make Ireland more resilient and secure in cyber space.

The summit, which takes place at The Helix in Dublin City University on February 25th and 26th next year, will see five different meetings take place: a global security forum looking at megatrends across the globe such as the implications of climate change; a defence security and intelligence conference looking at the future of the Defence Forces and the future of policing; another will focus on the emergency services; there will be an industry research and innovations forum; and finally, the one-day strategic cyber conference.

The latter will be geared at key decision-makers across Government, with the goal of giving them a clear understanding of why cybersecurity is now critical going forward, Waldron says.

‘A threat’

“Not taking it seriously is a threat to both Ireland and every agency working in Ireland,” he says. “It isn’t something that just those involved in cybersecurity have to take responsibility for, it’s for everyone, whether you’re structuring a banking payment system, a social welfare system, or our election system.”

Waldron stresses the necessity to have all stakeholders in the room when it comes to discussing matter of cybersecurity and his goal with Slándáil is to place it firmly on the public and political agenda for discussion.

“The private sector would feel that they are doing most of the heavy lifting at the moment when it comes to cybersecurity and everyone is eagerly watching to see what vision the new strategy will outline for the role of State agencies and in particular the National Cyber Security Centre and for the Defence Forces cyber capabilities, which have severely diminished since the previous strategy was published.”

An enhanced focus on cybersecurity brings myriad benefits, he says. “Cybersecurity is not just about the negative, and preventing attacks – by being a global leader in cybersecurity we can enable the digital economy and start pushing forward the Government digital agenda.”

See nssi.ie.

Danielle Barron

Danielle Barron is a contributor to The Irish Times