Ireland’s national police service has launched an investigation into a cyber attack that forced it to temporarily shut down parts of its IT system.
Garda Síochána, which is Gaelic Irish for “the Guardian of the Peace,” disclosed the attack on 6 August, two days after the attack occurred.
According to Independent.ie, an external attacker attempted to gain access to the the Garda Síochána computer network, which compelled the police force to temporarily shut down parts of its IT system.
That system contains highly sensitive information pertaining to ongoing investigations, staff, and members of the public. At this time, Garda Síochána does not believe the attackers compromised any information in the system.
The Irish police force made the decision after its IT security teams came across a strain of malware that they had never seen before.
A spokesperson for Garda Síochána has not released any details concerning the malware, including whether the strain came with a ransom note. They did, however, explain what steps they took to address the threat in a statement:
“(After the threat was recognised) heightened security procedures were implemented and standard protocols were enforced across all Garda ICT environments to limit any effect on our systems. Working with security experts the threat was identified and an appropriate solution was implemented across all Garda Siochana ICT systems.”
Garda Síochána’s investigation into the malware attack is ongoing as of this writing.
This is not the first time a police force has temporarily shuttered its systems following a malware infection. In early 2010, security teams working with the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) disconnected the force’s computer systems from the Police National Computer network after they found the Conficker worm making its way through GMP-owned personal computers. It is believed Conficker first gained entry to the GMP system after someone plugged an infected USB stick into a Windows PC.