The growing concern: Ireland’s susceptibility to Russian cyberattacks on its electrical grid

The Institute of International and European Affairs warns that Russia’s increasing instability in Ukraine has raised concerns about potential attacks, particularly cyberattacks on Ireland’s electrical grid, which will be discussed in a hearing by Ireland’s Oireachtas committee

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According to the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), the increasing instability of Russia in Ukraine has heightened the likelihood of potential attacks. This concern will be the focal point of an upcoming hearing on 9 May 2023, where Ireland’s Oireachtas committee will examine countrie’s susceptibility to significant cyberattacks from Russia specifically aimed at its electrical grid.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence will be briefed by experts from the IIEA on the nature of hybrid threats to critical infrastructure, including the communications and energy grid. Committee members will learn that as Russia’s campaign against Ukraine falters, it will try to harm the EU in other ways, with Ireland being a key target because of the volume of the EU data stored there.

According to Cian FitzGerald of the IIEA, Ireland is home to 30% of all European data as well as cable infrastructure that is ‘critical to global communications.’ According to him, extended and widespread power outages would harm Ireland’s reputation as ‘a safe and stable place to do business’ and possibly have an adverse effect on the rest of the EU. As Russian forces remain enmeshed in Ukraine, it ‘may seek to use other means to achieve its political goals by targeting European states such as Ireland,’ according to IIEA head of research Barry Colfer.

IIEA head of research added that Russian threats encompass the realm of ‘grey zone’ or hybrid warfare, encompassing actions that fall below the threshold of conventional military engagement. Such tactics include cyberattacks, dissemination of false information, and interference in elections, among other examples.