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Dublin Information Sec 2017, Ireland’s cyber security conference, addresses the critically important issues that threaten businesses in the information age. Just days ago, Theresa May refused four times to rule out whether our Government would employ such covert techniques to attack and sabotage North Korea’s computer networks by using viruses. When dealing with maverick dictators such as Kim Jong-un, it makes no sense to tell the world what cards you hold, or indeed, whether you are considering playing them.
He said that the Wanna Cry ransomware attack which caused global chaos earlier this year was exploited by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s cyber security services – but only netted a measly €120,000 for Pyongyang because of an unforeseen escape route built into the malware.
Much of what is known about it comes from the documents stolen by renegade former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and disgracefully made public – putting at risk the undercover work of spies.
With several hundred employees, many being the most elite computer hackers on the planet, TAO is thought to have already carried out successful cyber-attacks that have gathered intelligence from North Korea.
North Korean state-sponsored cyber gangs are launching almost daily attacks on Irish companies, banks and utilities as it emerged a syndicate associated with the Pyongyang regime is the chief suspect in the €4.3m cyber raid on Meath County Council last year.
Ireland finds itself on the front line of an escalating global cyber war as a leading IT security expert warned that North Korea, because of UN and US sanctions, has now turned to international cyber robbery as the primary means of funding its state and massive military.
Some 48pc of all businesses have no cyber security policy in place, with a further 27pc acknowledging that either their security needs tightening or they are completely unsecure, according to the survey carried out by Magnet Networks.
The Magnet Networks National Cyber Security Awareness Survey was carried out among 205 companies spread across all sectors and regions, giving an up-to-date sample of the business attitudes to a threat which could potentially ruin many of those who are attacked.“These probing attacks are occurring almost 24/7 on Irish networks and, in most cases, the firms involved are simply not aware of it.” Smarttech logged an incredible 21 million attacks last year – and the rate of attacks is increasing on a daily basis.Mr Murphy said different cyber syndicates have different priorities – Chinese gangs are usually targeting healthcare data and industrial secrets, North Korean gangs – usually supported by the state’s cyber intelligence agency – are focused on stealing funds and exploiting ransomware attacks while European and Russian hackers can have multiple motives.The number of cyber attacks suffered by Irish businesses doubled between 20, but that figure is expected to double or even treble because of recent ransomware attacks.Ronan Murphy, of Smarttech247, said it was vital Ireland understands that it was now firmly on the front line of the cyber battle because of the number of US multinationals based here.The cost of cyber raids on Irish businesses has soared from €498,000 in 2014 to €1.7m in 2016 – with analysts warning it is likely to increase exponentially over future years.