Taoiseach Micheál Martin has admitted that there has not been sufficient investment in IT and cyber security for the Irish health care system and that it should have been done “years ago.”
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Mr Martin said he accepted that the system was vulnerable, it had been his personal view for a long time that there needed to be much more investment.
“We can modernise our health service far more effectively, and it's an aim of mine and the Government to do that, and to use every available means at our disposal to modernise our health service from a digital perspective. And we've been too slow at that", he said.
Progress was being made and the Covid experience had accelerated that, he said.
Mr Martin said the health system (in Ireland and throughout the world) was always vulnerable to an attack and there was no fool proof way of resisting such an attack.
The budget for national cyber security had been increased, he said, but “we need to do more.”
A number of countries had been very helpful following the attack, he said. Poland had been very helpful in the early phase of the attack because they had suffered something similar, and the UK had also been of assistance.
“It's not one country on its own. We would have regular collaboration with international partners and expertise as well.”
Martin also said there had been no great evidence yet of any mass dumping of data in relation to the cyber attack on the HSE's IT systems. The situation was being monitored very closely.
“If anyone has any suspicions, if anybody comes across any data, if you see it don't share it. Report it, that's the simple message we have - report it to the gardaí.”
Progress was being made on restoring services, and the decryption key was helping, he said.
It was “a despicable act” to steal someone's health data, and the hackers may not have realised they were taking on a government or a health service, he added.
“It is criminal, these are criminals who will seek to exploit this data. But again, we've had very good cooperation with social media companies, who have been very proactive with the Government in relation to this and have agreed to shut down anything and take it down as quickly as they see anything.”