Michael Kavanagh of the Compliance Institute said cybercrime is advancing at such a fast pace that organisations and legislators ‘cannot keep up’.
A new survey published today (16 January) has found that cybercrimes such as hacking, phishing and online scams are the most prevalent forms of financial crimes in Ireland.
This is according to the Dublin-based Compliance Institute which asked 230 compliance professionals working primarily in Irish financial services firms what the “number one threat” in financial crimes was.
More than a third of respondents (34pc) said cybercrime was the most common form of crime in the financial world, edging out more “traditional” pursuits such as tax evasion (21pc), fraud (21pc), money laundering (19pc), bribery and corruption (4pc) and insider trading (1pc).
“Cybercrime is more new-age and is developing and advancing at a pace so fast that organisations and legislators cannot keep up,” said Michael Kavanagh, CEO of the Compliance Institute.
Part of the Government’s cybersecurity strategy launched in in mid-2023 is to create a national anti-ransomware organisation and offer cash subsidies to small businesses to fight cybercrime, but Kavanagh said that the timelines are “unclear”.
“There’s no doubt that the move would be laudable and welcomed with open arms by many businesses that continue to be plagued by ransomware attacks. These attacks can have catastrophic consequences not just for those whom they are perpetrated against, but for the wider public,” he said.
One of the biggest cases of cybercrime in Ireland in recent times is the HSE cyberattack of 2021. Healthcare services across the country were impacted in what was said to be the most serious cyberattack ever to hit the State’s critical infrastructure.
Forced to shut down their IT systems, hospitals and other HSE services were left without access to electronic health records, causing significant disruption.
According to Kavanagh, Ireland has a unique position as Europe’s “largest data-hosting cluster” that warrants an “elevated” cybercrime and data protection system.
“Regulators in Ireland and around the world are constantly updating and issuing new guidance to firms in response to emerging cybersecurity issues, such as fake documentation and the reliability of information sources,” he said.
“Regulators need to ask themselves how they can regulate and supervise without stifling innovation. Businesses and organisations need to ask how they can best prepare and respond, and the general public also needs to know what measures they can take to protect themselves.”
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