Cyber criminals “don’t take a holiday” over the festive season, Minister of State for eGovernment Ossian Smyth has warned.
As reported in The Irish Times, Mr Smyth has urged businesses and other organisations to take precautions before closing for Christmas.
His comments come as further details relating to the massive cyberattack on the Health Service Executive (HSE) were released this week. The cyber attack, which happened on May 14th, led healthcare professionals across the sector unable access to all HSE-provided IT systems.
The Coombe Hospital also suffered a ransomware attack this month, however, patient services are said to be continuing as normal.
According to Mr Smyth, cyber criminals increase their activity at this time of the year “so it’s a time when you're liable to get attacked”.
“If you’re running a computer system or critical infrastructure or a big company you have to make sure you take all the right precautions before you lock up,” he explained.
“The bad guys don’t take a holiday for Christmas.”
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently warned organisations about a new vulnerability in Java code, which poses a “serious risk to the security and integrity of data”.
The NCSC urged any victims of cyber crime to file a reported with An Garda Síochána
Some 2,500 cyber incidents were reported to the NCSC between January and November in 2021.
The significant rise in the number of cyber related crime incidents was reflected in this year's budget whereby the NCSC received funding to increase staff numbers from 20 to 45.
Mr Smyth commented that, while there had previously been difficulties obtaining funding, “all those problems melted away after the cyberattack on the HSE and people were willing to do what it takes.”
He also encouraged any victims of cyber crime to contact the NCSC as soon as possible.
“It’s like calling the fire brigade when there’s a fire in your building,” Mr Smyth said.
“It’s a good thing to do, and they’re not going to hold it against you for doing it.”