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The UK’s top cyber official has alarmed Irish telecom, energy, and transportation infrastructure of the growing cyber threats that continue to threaten them while acknowledging the UK’s ongoing close cooperation with Ireland.
During a remote appearance at an Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) event in Dublin, Linda Cameron, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) referred to the two countries as sharing “shared cyber interests” and having a close bilateral relationship.
The potential for increased cyber-threats will make this an even more important issue than before, especially since Northern Ireland has a southern neighbor as well.
Cyberthreat To Ireland’s Energy
The security of Northern Ireland’s energy occurs through gas pipelines and electrical interconnectors that connect to Great Britain as well as across the border, including the Single Electricity Market.
Managing and controlling automated industrial processes is a critical element of energy sector efficiency and productivity, announced Cameron.
Campbell noted that it is a real possibility that the reliance of this operation on technology and the interconnected network of infrastructure on the island of Ireland could be exploited as a target for cyberattacks.
The Northern Ireland Railways and Irish Rail businesses jointly operate the rail link between Belfast and Dublin, and she noted that a ransomware attack is another probable threat.
In an interview, Cameron advised that state actors are a constant concern and could potentially play a role in the telecoms industry – where targets may be compromised to conduct spying in other sectors or to provide consumer or communications data for themselves.
Cameron Said Further:
“Some managed service providers that operate in Northern Ireland provide services both sides of the border. It is, therefore, a realistic possibility that a cyber-attack on a telecoms provider could impact services to both of our countries. The governments of both UK and Ireland have been clear that they will not tolerate malicious cyber activity, and we have and will publicly call out state-level attacks.”
Ransomware attacks pose real dangers, as the Irish Health Service suffered a massive attack in May.
Cameron said the attack put patients’ lives at risk.
However, the threat actors themselves handed over the key later as a “public relations move” due to the close collaboration between NCSC and Irish partners.