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Cybersecurity Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (562)

Jim O'Callaghan


562. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Health the steps in place to ensure that the health system is protected from cyberattacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61201/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The CONTI Ransomware attack on the HSE of 14th May 2021 resulted in an immediate loss of almost all ICT systems, applications and communications networks needed to support the delivery of health and social care services. As an immediate response, the HSE took all systems offline to reduce the risk of further contagion, while the situation was assessed. Funding provided this year addressed the immediate risks to the HSE, including the recovery of systems and data affected by the attack, upgrades and replacement of legacy systems and the establishment of a Security Operations Centre for enhanced monitoring of threats.

There is a need for sustained investment in ICT in the health service in the coming years to protect the health system from the risk of future attacks and the 2022 Budget includes capital and revenue funding for the HSE to enhance cyber resilience. This investment will support the maintenance of a modern and secure ICT infrastructure, to mitigate against the impact of future attacks.

Considerable work is also underway at government level to protect against future attacks. The Department of Health and particularly the HSE, as the key target of the cyber-attack in May, are working closely with the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the National Cyber Security Centre and its partners to strengthen ICT infrastructure and ensure that health services are resilient to future cyber incidents.

Departments are also moving to the “build to share” Government infrastructure model which protects the working environment and monitors malicious activity more efficiently. Plans are in place to establish the National Cyber Security Centre on a statutory footing and to increase staff numbers to support the critical work that they do in protecting infrastructure from future cyber-attacks.