Irish Govt signs €3.3m deal with Microsoft to fix Windows XP security issues

18 Feb 2014

The Irish Government’s Office of the CIO has signed a €3.3m memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Microsoft to handle security issues that could affect four critical State departments when support for Windows XP ends in April.

The 12-month deal will prevent key offices of the State falling prey to hackers on 8 April, when the software giant officially pulls the plug on support for its 12-year-old operating system.

In the UK, a similar deal has been reached concerning the extension of security support for thousands of ageing National Health Service Windows XP machines and migrating them to more modern systems.

A spokesperson for the Office of the CIO at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform told that many organisations, including the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Agriculture, have moved to more modern versions of the Microsoft products or found alternative solutions.

However, there are four main departments that could be vulnerable to cyberattacks from 8 April.

To be besieged or not besieged, that is the question

There are four main sectors covered by the MoU: Health, Justice and Equality; Environment Community and Local Government; Education and Skills; and all of their associated entities.

“The Office of the Government CIO has signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft, whereby affected organisations can get access to priority security bug fixes for 12 months from April,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the final price was value for money for the taxpayer, following extensive negotiations, whereby the price of the fix was haggled down from an initial €14.2m to €3.3m.

“Given the initial baseline information, the cost of each organisation sheltering under individual agreements for 12 months would have been €14.2m.

“Following discussions surrounding a cap on cost, the overall cost was negotiated down to €3.3m for 12 months, including some Microsoft technical inputs. This is a value for money solution to a global issue. 

“Cost will not be paid from any central fund or additional vote allocation, but will fall to individual departments and organisations,” the spokesperson said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years