Department of Justice and Equality publishes research report to mark European Cyber Security Month - Cybercrime: Current Threats and Responses

October 8, 2020


To mark European Cyber Security Month, the Department of Justice and Equality has today published the findings from an international literature review it commissioned on Cybercrime: Current Threats and Responses.


Over the last six months, Irish society has become increasingly dependent upon our digital technologies, with many businesses and public sector bodies adapting to remote working due to the COVID-19 crisis.  Such increases in remote working raises the risk of exposure to cybercriminals and deepens the potential negative effects of a cyberattack. 


The report was co-authored by researchers Sheelagh Brady from Security Analysis and Research Consulting and Caitríona Heinl from the School of Politics and International Relations at UCD.  It is the fourth publication in a series commissioned in fulfilment of the commitment in the Department’s 2018-2020 Data and Research Strategy, in support of evidence-informed policy making.


Undertaken to assist policy formation, the review seeks to address a range of questions, such as:

The review constitutes a valuable resource and will act as a springboard for future empirical research on best practice in this area, providing a body of evidence that is essential to inform future policy discussions and development.


Welcoming the research, the Secretary General, Oonagh McPhillips, said:


“This report is timely as this type of activity has grown over the last six months, with criminals increasingly exploiting the online space during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our traditional methods of policy development and legislative responses do not easily lend themselves to the dynamic and rapid evolution of online crime while balancing individual rights. 


“This report will help us to think through Ireland’s approach to these knotty issues, working with colleagues across Government both here and internationally.  The current awareness campaign by the National Cyber Security Centre and the Garda National Cybercrime Bureau is a very useful contribution to heighten the public’s awareness of risks online.”


The full report is available here






This research report is the fourth in a series of releases to be disseminated by the Research and Data Analytics unit in the Department of Justice and Equality. The previous reports can be found  here:


·    This work builds on the Department’s commitment, outlined in the 2018-2020 Data and Research Strategy, to support the development of more evidence-informed policy making.


·      Following a substantial Programme of Transformation throughout 2019, a new operating model has been implemented in the Department, increased capability in the Policy space will ensure that the Department is developing holistic, research-based long-term policy, through research and analysis from multiple sources. It will ensure that we are adopting a proactive and strategic view of Justice and Equality Policy formulation and review, providing “best-in-class” advice to Ministers and Government in the long-term interest of all citizens.


Background information on authors/researchers of the report


Sheelagh Brady is a co-founder and senior analyst at Security Analysis and Research (SAR) and provides a range of security analysis products and research. Sheelagh, has previously, held the position of Mission Security Analyst, EUBAM Libya, Senior Security Information Analyst, with UNDSS in Abuja Nigeria, and was previously an Analyst in the Mission Analytical Capability Unit of the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia Herzegovina, having been seconded from An Garda Síochána Prior to this Sheelagh had over 13 years’ service with An Garda Síochána, attached to regular policing units, and more specialist units, such as the National Air Support Unit, and Community Relations and Community Policing.


Caitríona Heinl is Executive Director at The Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy, Ireland and Adjunct Research Fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin. She was previously Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Centre of Excellence for National Security at NTU Singapore.  She has over a decade of experience in international and Irish research and academic environments working on transnational crime, security and defence questions with particular focus on international cybersecurity policy, emerging technologies, regional security architectures and the Asia Pacific/SE Asia. She is a member of the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘Foreign Policy Network’.