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John Brady TD calls for expanded role for Defence Forces in preventing cyber attacks

16 May, 2021 - by John Brady TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, today reiterated his party's call for an expansion of the cyber security capacity of the Defence Forces.

Teachta Brady said:

“The Irish people are currently under a terror attack by cyber criminals. Our current cyber defence mechanisms have proven to be wholly inadequate.

"Earlier this year, myself and my party colleague Teachta Sorca Clarke put forward a comprehensive submission to the Commission on the Future of the Defence Forces. Within which we made an inclusive set of recommendations for the expansion and enhancement of the capacity of the Defence Forces ability to defend our country from cyber-attacks.

"The events of the last number of days have illustrated beyond doubt the importance of this.

“There is a definitive need to develop the technology and software systems necessary to reduce our dependency on external systems.

"We believe that the government needs to identify the key strategic, tactical, and operational procedures required in order to develop the capacity to act independently of external partners.

"Adequate training also needs to be introduced in the fields of cybersecurity in order to enhance and to maintain a highly effective professional staff in the field.

"Ireland’s cybersecurity system is currently managed by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which falls under the remit of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.

"The NCSC is the main point of contact for cybersecurity in Ireland under the EU Network and Information Security Directive.

"To ensure efficient and effective cybersecurity strategies in line with Defence Forces tactical and strategic plans to counter cyberwarfare, the NCSC should be transferred to the Irish Defence Forces.

"This would allow for increased integration of our cybersecurity operational procedures with our overall strategic and tactical operational procedures.

"The National/Governmental Computer Security Incident Response Team (CIRT-IE) should be enhanced and expanded in order to ensure the capabilities are present to deal with national cybersecurity incidents.

"CIRT-IE should be equipped with the knowledge, training and software necessary to allow it to take proactive action to prevent cybersecurity breaches rather than being entirely reactive.

"The Irish Defence Forces should be provided with the means to train, educate and develop personnel in the field of cybersecurity.

 "It is essential that these personnel are not then lost to the high turnover rates in the Defence Forces, as a consequence of poor working conditions, non-competitive pay rates or operational hazards. 

"The sustainability of any cybersecurity system will depend on adequate investment in this area.

“As critical as the role of a revamped, cutting edge Defence Forces cyber unit in preventing cyber-attacks, this can only happen in the event of the ability of the state to recruit and retain the necessary personnel.”

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