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Defence Forces deployed 'ethical hackers' to fight back against massive HSE cyber attack The CIS Corps deployed experts trained to think like cyber criminals to tackle the threat. By Niall O'Connor Tuesday 20 Jul 2021, 12:05 AM Jul 20th 2021, 12:05 AM 39,924 Views 39 Comments THE DEFENCE FORCES deployed the skills of so-called ‘ethical hackers’ in their bid to fight back against the HSE cyber attack of May this year.  Ethical hackers are trained to effectively think like a cyber criminal and highlight flaws in a system’s structure. They’re typically tasked with highlighting weaknesses that need to be addressed in IT systems.  Captain Steve Keane, an Officer in the Computer Response Team (CRT) of the Defence Forces Communications and Information Services Corps (CIS), has revealed for the first time the detailed work of the unit investigate this site during the HSE  crisis , which is still not yet fully resolved.  In a podcast  by the Defence Forces, Keane revealed how his unit were contacted immediately by the HSE and how they set about trying to find the hackers and analyse the virus. “We had personnel who were analysing the malware – what does it do?” he said. “They were also hunting for the threat actor, the adversary, on the network. [We were asking] is the person there? Is there a level of persistence where the network is brought back up and is there something nasty hiding in the corner and undoes all the work?” Keane said that there were also military experts involved in testing a decryptor – a programme designed to retrieve infected data on HSE computers.  He said that his team were working on the project with the health service “up until extremely recently”. According to the latest update from the HSE, 82% of systems are now decrypted. The attack continues to affect various aspects of the service, but according to the latest official update on the ransomware attack there is currently “no evidence that large amounts of patient or staff data has been published online or sold to criminals involved in fraud”. As the health system buckled under the pressure of the initial attack, Keane said the Defence Forces sprung into action immediately.  20.05.21 HSE ransomware attack began on a single computer when an employee clicked on a link While Keane didn’t comment on any specific measures, sources have told The Journal that soldiers attached to CIS were sent to hospitals and HSE offices to decrypt computers on site. The captain said: “The Defence Forces, due to its flexible nature, were able to deploy very quickly. We were able to deploy nationally to a lot of locations in every corner of the country due to the amount of barracks and their locations so we were very flexible.  “It was great to see all the different companies, all the different entities there. They were at the briefings and everyone saying ‘what can we do?’. It was a very positive experience.” As previously reported by The Journal, significant questions have been raised by TDs and military sources about the impact of funding cuts on the CIS Corps. Keane did not speak about the funding shortfall in the Defence Forces affecting its ability to respond but defended his unit’s capability.   “The quality of people we have, we don’t have a lot of personnel – as with every organisation you are crying out for more but the people we do have, the skills they have, are exceptional.” #Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you Keane was asked during the interview what was the future for the CIS Corps and he said that the need for the unit was only going to grow.  “It is only going to get bigger, it has to get bigger. It is recognised by the European Defence Agency, by NATO, by any credible force that the nature of conflict has changed. Using a term often deployed by military experts to refer to traditional warfare he said: “You don’t just have kinetic conflict, from now on, it will be proceeded by a cyber effect.”


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“The infrastructure bill has nothing to do with the reckless tax-and-spend extravaganza that she's talking about. ... So, no, I’m not happy with what she said because it's inconsistent with the agreement that we have on a bipartisan basis,” Portman told host George Stephanopoulos George Robert Stephanopoulos Sullivan: Comments by North Korea's Kim an 'interesting signal' Facebook VP says 2-year suspension of Trump from platform 'justified' Commerce secretary on cyberattacks against corporations: 'This is the reality' MORE on ABC’s “This Week.” When pressed on if that means Congress may not end up passing an infrastructure package, Portman said, "Well, if she has her way, we could. I’m not sure what the future is on reconciliation." "I know that the bipartisan infrastructure package is very popular among the American people and in the United States Congress because it makes sense. We need it badly," he added. Portman then knocked Pelosi for potentially "blocking" the passage of the bipartisan deal. “It's been totally bipartisan from the start. It's the way we ought to be doing things here in Washington to get stuff done, and I can’t believe the Speaker of the House would be blocking it,” he added. Pelosi on Sunday doubled down on her decision to delay a vote on the bipartisan deal until the Senate passes a larger infrastructure package through reconciliation.  “I won’t put it on the floor until we have ... the rest of the initiative,” she told Stephanopoulos in a separate interview.  “I'm enthusiastic about the fact that they will have a bipartisan bill. I hope that it will be soon. But yes, I stand by because the fact is, is that the president has said that he wants to have a bipartisan bill, and we all browse this site do. But that is not the limitation of the vision of the president. He wants to build back better,” Pelosi added, referring to the president's jobs and families plan. Portman on Sunday also said infrastructure negotiators are “about 90 percent of the way there” when asked if there is a deal. “We’re going to legislate the language with colleagues and with staff, and I feel good about getting that done this week,” Portman added. He said the final issue outstanding is mass transit before pinning the blame on Democrats.