Ireland’s cyber security conference Dublin Info Sec 2016 has highlighted the cyber security hazards and vulnerabilites facing businesses and organisations across the country and how to manage risk. New EU laws coming down the line on General Data Protection Regulation and the implications for Irish organisations were discussed at the national conference.

Dublin Info Sec is sponsored by eir Business, a Cisco Gold Partner. The cyber security conference took place in the RDS on Tuesday November 15th 2016 with high-level sessions on Ireland’s cyber resiliency, protecting businesses from attack, human factors in cyber security and the whistleblower.

An Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD addressed the national cyber security conference: “This important conference reflects the breadth and complexity of the issues that arise in the cyber security field. Along with our increasing reliance on digital services and technology is an increasing level of awareness of the risks and threats we face to our digital assets – be they websites or social media channels, portals, our databases including personal data, data centres and the rest of it.

We live in a digital world where everything is becoming interconnected, bringing huge opportunities for business and society. Our homes are becoming smarter, from TVs, to fridges, alarms, heating and air conditioning. All of these are being networked and accessible for personal convenience and enhanced control. With this new level of accessibility and interconnectedness comes new risks and dangers.”

The conference opened with an in-depth look at Ireland’s Cyber Resiliency headed up by Cyberpsychology expert Dr. Mary Aiken, along with Cyber Security Consultant Brian Honan and Joseph Carson, Cyber Security Strategist.

Ireland faces threats to its cyber security from external operators given its role as a key gateway for US and EU trade: “Food supplies, fuel, utilities, medical services are all potentially at risk from major cyber war,” Joseph Carson, a cyber security strategist at Thycotic told the Dublin Info Sec 2016 conference at Dublin’s RDS.

Mr Carson said, Ireland’s position as a key location in the international supply chain between the EU and the US made the country a strong target for forces who were intent on disrupting trade between the two trading areas:
“Ireland is at risk of cyber attack because of its key Atlantic position,” he told the Dublin conference, “The best defence is to decentralise. It’s important to look at decentralisation to protect Ireland against a DDOS attack.”

Mr Carson used the example of Estonia, a country which has been at the forefront of migrating to a digital society. While the country made the rapid transformation to the digital society in the early years of the 21st century, the level of state information available online made the country vulnerable to attacks from outside agents.

Mr Carson insisted that the best way to combat the threat of cyber attacks was to build digital alliances with foreign allies, which mitigates the chances of an individual country becoming compromised completely.

He also said it was important to be careful of a response to an attack, saying sometimes the action “could cause more problems again”.

Mr Carson said that while cyber terrorists were unlikely to target Irish government bodies specifically, firms operating within the country were likely to come under attack in the coming years.

The cyber security threat landscape makes it challenging for businesses and organisations to manage IT security, and knowledge of the issues is critical. Private and public sector cyber security specialists at Dublin Info Sec 2016 provided delegates with the latest research, tools and technologies to reduce risk and protect against security breaches in organisations.

As part of a session on protecting businesses from attack, delegates heard from Erik Slooten, Chief Information Officer, eir, who highlighted three main external security risks to businesses and organisations: the increasing threat of Ransomware, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and Internet of Things, outlining prevention and preparation tools, as well as the critical importance of educating employees about cyber security.

Slooten was joined on the issue of protecting businesses from attack by Michael Gubbins, Detective Superintendent, Garda Cyber Crime Bureau and Terry Greer King, Director of Security for Cisco UKI and Africa.

Sarah Harrison, WikiLeaks journalist led a session on ‘The Whistleblower: Champion or Sabateur’ followed by a panel discussion on the Irish context where she was joined by Greg Glynn, Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Arthur Cox and TJ McIntyre, Chair of Digital Rights Ireland.

Cliona Carroll, Sponsorship and Events Manager, INM commented: “We are delighted to bring the first Dublin Info Sec conference to Ireland. This highly successful national cyber security conference is set to be an annual event. We would like to thank our sponsor eir Business, a Cisco Gold Partner and the 2016 speakers.”