I thank the Deputy for his good wishes and look forward to working with him in this Thirty-third Dáil.
First and foremost, our preparation for cyberattacks has improved. I have returned to the same Ministry where I was ten years ago. At that time, a single individual was working on an informal basis, as much as anything else, to protect our systems. That has now been replaced with the new National Cyber Security Centre, NCSC, which is located within my Department. It is the primary cybersecurity authority in the State and has a number of roles, including leading on cybersecurity incident response and on the resilience and security of critical infrastructure.
The NCSC contains the State’s computer security incident response team, CSIRT. This is the body that responds to the full range of cybersecurity incidents in the State. The CSIRT has international accreditations and operates its own, purpose-built, secure incident response software environment. Since its foundation in 2011, the CSIRT has developed significant expertise in managing cybersecurity incidents and now handles in excess of 2,000 incidents each year. The CSIRT has also developed and deployed the Sensor platform across Departments, and deployed malware information sharing platforms, MISPs, across a range of critical infrastructure operators.
The NCSC has a set of statutory powers to ensure critical infrastructure operators maintain and operate critical infrastructure in a secure manner. To date, 67 operators of essential services have been designated. The compliance team in the NCSC has been working with these entities to improve their security since 2018, and formal audits will start before the end of the current quarter.
The programme for Government commits to the implementation of the 2019 national cybersecurity strategy in full. This strategy includes a number of measures designed to ensure our level of preparedness remains appropriate to deal with likely future threats.