Government websites targeted and shut down in cyber attack

Government departments and agencies were targeted by a cyber attack which shut down websites and has forced officials to review the protection of their internet systems.

The departments of finance, justice, and defence, the Central Statistics Office, and the Houses of the Oireachtas were among the state bodies which had their websites disrupted.

The websites were forced offline by what is known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, where servers were flooded by masses of online traffic.

It is understood websites run by the Court Service and the HSE were also affected.

The attack is believed to have begun overnight and early yesterday morning.

It was also reported yesterday that phone companies in recent days were the target of DDoS attacks.

The latest shutdown of government department websites comes after the National Lottery’s website was shut down last week after a cyber attack.

No group by last night had claimed responsibility for the attack, and it is unclear if the targeting of the departments and private phone companies are related.

The Office of the Government Chief Information Office was overseeing an investigation into the attack.

Sources in government departments said there had been no security or data privacy breaches and that the disruption was more of a nuisance.

Departments and agencies also reported problems sending and receiving emails.

The Revenue Commissioners said they were not directly affected by the attack but were “impacted by the general slowdown” in the government networks.

The Department of Social Protection said it noted intermittent and limited degradation of performance on its website.

A special unit to tackle cybercrime from the Department of Communications is involved in investigating the network attack.


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