Written Answers. - Computer Hacking.

Denis Naughten


133 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her Department's computer system or website has been hacked or if an attempt to hack it has occurred in the past three years; if so, when such an incident took place; the measures which have been put in place to protect against hacking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8182/01]

Apart from one isolated incident which occurred in early November 2000 in the Companies Registration Office, CRO, which is an executive office of my Department, neither my Department's computer system nor website has been the subject of a hacking attempt in the past three years. The Department's web server is hosted with an internet service provider, ISP, in a specialist web farm. The benefit of having the web server hosted in a web farm is that the Department can be assured that the highest level of preventative security measures are in place and are regularly reviewed and updated.

The isolated attempt to hack into one computer system in the CRO failed as it was very quickly detected and remedial action was undertaken to tighten security on this system. It must be recognised that individuals who engage in hacking activities do so on an ongoing basis and are extremely computer literate. Their challenge is to outmanoeuvre technological advances in security systems. This is why all organisations must remain vigilant in this regard at all times.

My Department is conscious of the need to stay abreast of technological advances in the area of computer security. Accordingly, it is engaging in a full security review of all systems. The CRO is also engaged in this process and has commissioned a detailed study of computer security. When the results of this study have been considered, additional work as appropriate will be undertaken to ensure, in so far as possible, that systems are securely protected against attack.