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Ireland to follow UK in setting up national cyber security centre

The Republic of Ireland plans to set up a national cyber security centre and education programme to improve the security of critical infrastructure, businesses and citizens

Ireland plans to set up a national cyber security centre, according to Denis Naughten, the country’s communications minister.

The news comes less than a month after the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) officially opened for business, combining all the government’s cyber security agencies under one roof.

“I will bring a memorandum to cabinet next week to establish a national cyber security centre that will focus on securing government networks,” Naughten told the (ISC)2 EMEA Congress 2016  in Dublin.

The centre will also cover the security of critical national infrastructure as well as assist industry and individuals to protect their digital assets.

“The centre will build on the existing computer security incident response team that has been in place in my department since 2011, providing incident response services to government departments and core state agencies,” said Naughten.

As communications minister, Naughten said a key social, economic and political priority is Ireland’s national broadband plan, which will bring fibre-to-the-home to rural Ireland.

“This means that the majority of consumers in rural Ireland will have access to services of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), with symmetrical upload and download speeds for businesses,” he said.

“In addition, in last week’s budget in Ireland, funding was made available to facilitate the reallocation of the 700Mhz spectrum away from television broadcasting to support broadband and mobile telephony service plans, particularly in rural areas, which means a valuable spectrum band will be freed up to deliver mobile data, including 5G.”

As a result, Ireland is now likely to be the first EU country to roll out 5G based on geographical factors rather than population density, putting it at the forefront of Europe and internationally in terms of connectivity and quality of service, said Naughten.

Three-quarters of consumers in Ireland reportedly manage their money or make payments using mobile devices, he said, which is nearly 50% higher than the EU average. Also, nearly 60% of 55 to 64-year-olds use a mobile device for banking, which highlights the level of trust they have in using technology, he added.

“This is an endorsement of the information security profession, but security of devices and data is continually under threat,” said Naughten, which is why his department published Ireland’s first national cyber security strategy last year.

“This builds on the longstanding recognition of the state’s role in facilitating improved security in the online world, and set out how we would protect our digital assets, including personal data and infrastructure,” said Naughten, pointing out that the planned national cyber security centre builds on this further.

“It is important that we have effective and accepted cyber security, which involves a balance of individual rights, particularly with regard to privacy and data protection with the interests of public safety and national security, but that is a difficult and challenging balance to achieve,” he said.

Naughten said that in the light of the fact that the world is becoming ever more reliant on digital services, he stresses the need for a risk management process to be put in place.

“Our banks, our hospitals, our airports, airlines, shipping, road and rail vehicles, together with utility providers, need to be safe from cyber attacks, and I recognise that regulation alone will not be sufficient, and therefore I am committed to a programme of education and training so that the public, as well as business, are better able to protect themselves in a digital world,” he said.

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