Gardaí yet to find source of attempted hack on ICT systems

8 Aug 2016

Ireland’s An Garda Síochána is still reeling from an attempted cyberattack against its systems over the weekend that resulted in a number of its internal services being shut down as a precaution.

Following the discovery of the threat, Gardaí from a number of divisions across the country were left without access to internal IT systems like email for some time as the organisation attempted to find the source of the attack.

An Garda Síochána has confirmed that the attempted hack of its systems was done via a vulnerability using a zero-day malware attack.

Sparking fears that much of the organisation’s large quantity of sensitive documents had been compromised – including the force’s internal Pulse system – An Garda Síochána has stated that no data was obtained during the attack.

In a statement issued following the attempted breach, a Garda spokesperson said: “Heightened security procedures were implemented and standard protocols were enforced across all Garda ICT environments to limit any effect on our systems.

“Working with security experts, the threat was identified and an appropriate solution was implemented across all Garda Síochána ICT systems.”

Garda IT in need of ‘major upgrade’

A number of Gardaí from the force’s Computer Crime Unit within the Garda Bureau of Fraud and Investigations are now attempting to determine where the hack originated.

However, it remains unclear as to whether it originated in Ireland or abroad.

Despite establishing its ICT unit in 2008, An Garda Síochána was warned last year in the Garda Inspectorate report that its overall IT development and strategy was in need of a “major upgrade” to bring it into line with modern practices.

This discovery of an attack on a vital piece of the country’s police force comes just a few days after the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten announced his intentions of establishing a national cybersecurity centre for the country.

The service would be expected to help Government departments, telecoms companies, major utilities and other national agencies protect themselves against future attacks.

Garda on duty image via Owen J Fitzpatrick/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic