From Cyber Hacks to Cyber Warfare
Last week the HSE and the Department of Health IT systems were hacked by a criminal gang demanding that a ransom be paid. They threatened to release the country’s medical records to the internet and continue to deny the HSE access to its own systems. Aside from the threat to all our privacy, for those who are currently undergoing any type of treatment, their health and potentially lives are being put at risk.
How does our Government protect itself and its citizens from such attacks? The current cyber-attack was immediately referred to Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre in the Netherlands to help devise a defence and identify the criminals. Any individual European country, especially small ones like Ireland, will struggle to build an insurmountable national defence when faced off against hackers sponsored by hostile States who are well resourced and highly competent criminals.
Fortunately, our membership of the EU means we have another level of resources and competency to turn to in times of crisis. Just like during the covid pandemic in fact. We could never have negotiated and bought all the vaccines currently being administered if we were not part of a bigger block. Just as the pandemic has encouraged the EU and its members to take the risk of pandemics seriously, lessons should also be learned from cyber-attack crises.
The ultimate risk in cyber-attacks is not just a data breach but the potential of full-blown cyber warfare. Imagine a scenario in which a hostile State decides to hack our electricity grid or banking system. It is one thing to have your medical records hacked, it’s quite another thing having your bank account, electricity and internet disappear.
The risk of cyber warfare is something we need to take very seriously, while working on a bigger defence strategy with the EU. Only in that way can we protect ourselves, our families, and our households from another existential crisis.
Afterall, we ignored the risk of a pandemic as just so much hysteria and look where that got us.
What do you think about cyber warfare? Will it be our next big crisis? Whose responsibility is it to defend us from such attacks and who should pay? Leave your comments below.