Funding and staffing increase for National Cybersecurity Centre after HSE hack

National Cybersecurity Centre National Cybersecurity Centre

The agency in charge of Ireland’s cyber security is to get an increased budget and a major staff increase, the Government announced today.

The expansion would bring the strength of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) from 25 to 45 within 18 months, with a further promise to increase it to 70 within five years.

Communications minister Eamon Ryan said the expansion followed the recommendations of a capacity review of the centre, which, he said, was set up before the recent HSE cyberattack.

Ryan said that the investment marks a “step change” in the evolution of the NCSC and its place in the security matrix.

“The expansion we are announcing today will enable the organisation further develop its competence and capacity to help defend and protect IT systems and our key services into the future.

“As Ireland is a leading digital economy, protecting the cyber security of Government IT and critical national infrastructure is vital,” Ryan added.

New government measures include:

  • 20 additional fulltime posts with an estimated additional €2.5m in the NCSC 2022 budget;
  • An increased salary of $217,022 (up from the previous maximum of $149,792) for the vacant post of director;
  • A cyber security graduate training programme;
  • A five-year technology strategy for the centre.

One key area, that attracted much criticism during the recent HSE cyber attack was the absence of a director of the NCSC.

Criticisms were levelled that the wage for the senior manager post could not compete with private sector roles so that will now be re-advertised and the salary set at $216,996.

Cyber expert Brian Honan welcomed the announcement but said it was “long overdue” and that legislation was needed.

“Having the numbers of staff to deal with issues by itself will not be enough,” he said.

NCSC’s budget in 2021 is $8,137 up from $4,717,320 in 2020, $4,717,320 in 2019, and $3,538,950 in 2018.

Employers’ group Ibec welcomed the expansion and said nearly 250,000 people were employed in “digitally intensive” sectors in Ireland.