Gardai ramp up efforts to tackle cyber crime

THE FIGHT against cyber crime in Donegal is intensifying with 28 gardai in the Division now specially trained to deal with the problem.
Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Crime Bureau, Paul Cleary was speaking at the Joint Policing Committee meeting on Friday when he spoke about the worrying rise in cyber crime in the county including recent ransomware attacks on local businesses.
“In 2020 and 2021 we have seen a significant increase in cyber enabled crime, ransomware attacks in particular,” said Mr Cleary.
“We had one last month when a very well known, large company in Donegal was the victim of a ransomware attack.
“We always say to people not to treat cyber security or cyber safety as an overhead but for companies to treat it as an investment.”
The 28 officers in the Donegal Division have been trained as Digital First Responders who trawl through computers for potential evidence when they are investigating online crimes such as cyber scams, cyber bullying and phishing.
There are also plans to open a new
cyber satellite hub by the end of June 2022 to cover the northern region.
Gardai are currently investigating 85 cyber crimes in the Donegal/Sligo Division. These include 59 phishing scams, eight cases involving emails being compromised, two romance scams, three offences against computer systems and 13 cases of child sexual abuse material.
“We are currently investigating two ransomware attacks in Donegal. It happens everywhere. We can see a more increased awareness and a lot of businesses and companies are taking it seriously,” said Mr Cleary.
“The biggest issue we have is the lack of reporting from businesses.”
Mr Cleary said businesses are often reluctant to report cyber crime because they are afraid it will affect them commercially if customers believe their data is not safe.
“Companies know this so they are very slow to report cyber crime if they have been a victim. We always say even if you don’t want to report it as a crime please tell us about it so we can warn other businesses.
“Since the HSE cyber crime attack everyone is talking about cyber attacks and everyone knows the crippling effect it can have on businesses and jobs are at risk,” he said.
Mr Cleary was speaking to members of the JPC ahead of the launch of Donegal’s Cyber Safety Awareness week which is due to take place on October 5.

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