As outlined in the Government's White Paper on Defence 2015, the issue of cybersecurity has very significant implications for governmental administration, for industry, for economic well-being and for the security and safety of citizens. Cybersecurity is a standing item on the agenda of the Government task force on emergency planning, which I chair.
The response to cyberthreats remains a whole-of-Government challenge, with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment taking the lead role and with inputs in the security domain from An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces. The Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are committed to participating, under the leadership of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, in the delivery of measures to improve the cybersecurity of the State.
Ireland’s national cybersecurity centre, NCSC, which is located in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment provides a range of cybersecurity services to owners of Government ICT infrastructure and critical national infrastructure. The NCSC is also home to the national computer security incident response team, CSIRT-IE, which acts as a national point of contact involving entities within Ireland, and as the point of contact for international discussions and collaboration on issues of cybersecurity. The scope of CSIRT's activities covers prevention, detection, response and mitigation services to Departments and State agencies and critical national infrastructure providers. The Defence Forces provide seconded specialists to assist with the work of CSIRT-IE when resources allow. In addition, as in any emergency situation, once defence systems are supported, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces will provide support to CSIRT-IE insofar as resources allow.
While it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the specific cybercapabilities of the Defence Forces, for both security and operational reasons, I can confirm that the priority for the Defence Forces' CSIRT is the protection of the Defence Forces communications network. Other activities undertaken by CSIRT include the monitoring and handling of cyberincidents, the enhancement of Defence Forces cybersituational awareness and the provision of cyberawareness training.