A week after a massive cyberattack targeted Irish-owned websites and businesses, the government is planning to tackle the cyber threat with a range of new measures.
The Government will introduce a range in the next fortnight, with the aim of bolstering its cyber defence and helping the Irish economy to recover faster.
The measures will include the deployment of new equipment such as a new “cyber warfare” system that will help the Government to detect and counter cyber attacks.
The new system, codenamed “Hercules”, will be deployed to secure a range at home and abroad and will be able to automatically identify and disable any malicious software that has been installed on the system.
Cyber defence is currently provided by the Department of Cyber Security and Emergency Management (DCSEM).
It is one of the departments’ major responsibilities, with another in the Department Of Justice, and it is currently under review by the new Defence Secretary.
The Cyber Defence System is expected to be in place in 2018, and is expected be fully operational by 2022.
The plans are aimed at boosting cyber defence capabilities, but it is expected the system will not be able – at this stage – to fully protect against ransomware, for example.
The department is also aiming to ensure that cyber criminals are not able to access government networks.
It is also expected to deploy a new system to provide “a comprehensive threat mitigation service” to all organisations using its services.
It will allow the department to provide cyber protection to all employees and organisations, including those working in government, private sector and public sector organisations.
It was previously reported that the department is considering the establishment of a “cyberspace” force.
The force is meant to protect the Government’s computers and network, and will have the power to suspend access to all internet services, including email, social media and video.
The move will make it easier for departments to defend against ransomware attacks and other malicious software.
In a statement, Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe said:”We will be deploying a cyber defence system which is able to detect malicious software, which will be used to protect our national infrastructure from cyber attacks.”
The Department of Finance has also announced it will also deploy a cyber force, and a cyber warfare unit, which is meant “to identify and stop cyber attacks that threaten our national security”.
The department will be working closely with the Department for Communications to “enhance” cyber defence, and its cyber warfare system will be “fully operational by the end of 2021”.
The new Cyber Defence Service is also set to become operational in 2018.
It has been previously reported the department will also be working with the US Cyber Command and the US Department of Homeland Security to develop a cyber-security plan.
The cyber-warfare unit is being set up by the US Defense Cyber Command, which has a presence in Dublin and has “deepened and grown its cyber security capabilities in recent years”.
In a previous statement, the department said it was “working closely” with the “US Government” on cyber-defence plans.
It added:”Our cyber-spying operations are focused on foreign targets, including foreign governments and foreign corporations, and our cyber-attack capabilities have significantly improved over the past few years, reflecting the increased focus on cyber threat actors, and their use of computer networks and information.”
The department said its Cyber Defence system is “currently operational”, and it has “a range of defensive tools that can help our Government and Government businesses to detect, detect and disable malicious software”.
“The Department for Finance is also looking at using cyber-equipment to protect its digital assets from cyber threats, such as new malware detection systems that can identify malware and protect assets against them,” it added.
The Irish government is already under increasing cyber pressure.
In September, it suffered its first ransomware attack since the country joined the Eurozone in 2011, forcing businesses and businesses of all sizes to scramble for backup systems.
The following month, the Irish government was hit by a major cyber attack which hit the government, schools, banks and other organisations.
This week, the cyber-threat was extended to include the Department For Transport, which lost some 500,000 of its own computers.
The country’s telecoms regulator also reported another ransomware attack in the run up to the European elections.
It said the attacks targeted its IT systems and data centres and that there were reports that the attacks could have been much worse.
The IT-services provider was also the target of a series of attacks in June that compromised banking, social security and other personal data.