Ireland’s cyber security body is operating at a "heightened state" of preparedness in response to the war in Ukraine and tensions around cyberattacks.
In a statement to theon Thursday, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said that while the threat level of a direct cyberattack on Ireland is “low”, there is a “moderate to high risk” of knock-on effects from cyberattacks abroad.
The NCSC is the country’s lead body in countering cybercrime and cyber security but works closely with separate sections of An Garda Síochána in relation to both and the Defence Forces in relation to the latter.
These bodies provide briefings to the National Security Analysis Centre (NSAC), which in turn briefs the Taoiseach.
The NCSC, which sits within the Department of Communications, said: “We do not comment on operational matters, but we can confirm that the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) is currently operating at a heightened state of preparedness, in response to recent cyber incidents and the tensions in Eastern Europe.
“While the NCSC has assessed that the potential direct risk of attack to Ireland is low, there is a moderate to high risk that second or third-order effects of cyber action elsewhere could have a knock-on effect in Ireland.”
It said it had also informed all relevant bodies and companies that levels of cyber-criminal activity “may increase, as threat groups may seek to profit from the tensions or as a proxy of State activity”.
“The NCSC is in ongoing contact with its counterparts in the EU, UK, US and other countries to share information and monitor possible threats,” the statement said.
“The NCSC continues to work closely with the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána and is in frequent contact with operators of critical infrastructure and services to monitor for possible malicious cyber activity.”
It said it had contingency plans in place, in case of “escalation of malicious cyber activity” impacting on Irish networks and services. It is working with regulators of key sectors and Government departments to further develop these plans in key areas.
“The NCSC has well-developed capabilities and toolsets to detect, identify and respond to serious incidents,” it said.
“The NCSC also has arrangements in place to avail of external expert support as required including a number of third-party incident response services.” Questioned about its assessment of the current situation, Garda HQ said it did not comment on domestic or international security other than to say it was working with domestic and foreign security agencies.
The Defence Forces said primacy for cyber security in Ireland was vested in the Department of Communications and the NCSC, but pointed out that the Defence Forces maintained a “close working relationship” with it.