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CITY TRIBUNE

Hackers ‘extremely likely’ to attack as NUI Galway goes back online

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The head of tech security at NUI Galway has said it is “extremely likely” the university will be targeted by hackers again when it begins to open up its IT systems to the internet over the coming days.

“It’s extremely likely even the same gang that attacked us, or friends of theirs, are likely to come in and have another go at us, so we have to have our security in a much better place than it was previously,” staff were told this week.

Many students are missing out on online classes and assignments because, while staff have also raised complaints that seven weeks on from the cyberattack, they still do not have access to wifi or servers within the university.

The college is continuing to work alongside KPMG’s Digital Forensics Incident Response Team, as well as Interpol and Gardaí – officials confirmed NUIG is always being “probed” by potential hackers looking for weaknesses in its IT systems.

Declan Staunton, Head of Research, Architecture and Strategy in the college’s ISS (Information Solutions and Services) Department told staff this week that internet connections are now being restored following the cyberattack in September.

He described it as “the most dangerous point” in the recovery of systems within NUIG because “communications pathways are being opened to the internet”.

The college shut down the majority of its IT infrastructure following the discovery of malware (malicious software used by hackers) – it has 6,000 PCs and 500 servers on its campus.

NUIG President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh admitted the college had been “knocked for six” by the attack.

The intended target within the college of the attack has been identified and the source is continuing to be investigated by tech experts along with Gardaí and Interpol.

College officials have stressed that it was not a ransomware attack – where hackers encrypt data and demand ransom to release it – because no data was accessed.

Speaking to staff this week, Declan Staunton described it as “quite a chaotic time” within the college.

He explained that the college is in the final phase of recovery from the cyberattack in which internet connections will be restarted. In the coming days, the college hopes to have “80-90%” back online, but it will be “well into the New Year” before all servers are back.

“This is the most dangerous point of the recovery, because the communications pathways are being opened to the internet and it makes it very likely we’ll get attacked again. We know for certain we’re always being probed.

“It’s extremely likely even the same gang that attacked us, or friends of theirs, are likely to come in and have another go at us, so we have to have our security in a much better place than it was previously,” Mr Staunton told staff.

He said the college has enhanced its threat monitoring software and introduced additional monitoring in its data centres which feeds information constantly to an external company.

John Gill, Chief Operating Officer of NUIG, accepted the attack and the recovery process had been long and frustrating, but necessary to allow it to happen safely.

“The recovery process has been painstaking. Our view, as informed and advised by KPMG, was that the last thing you want to do is recover quickly and have the malware still evidence or still present in your environment and allow it back into action.

“The decision was taken to shut down the university network to disable it from the internet – the purpose of that was to contain the attack and limit any potential damage the malware might cause.

“On hindsight, that decision was a very wise one, as it achieved containment and prevented the malware from communicating with external sources and encrypting out data, which was critically important,” Mr Gill said.

The university contacted other cyberattack victims, including the HSE, to learn from their experiences.

According to NUIG authorities, ‘wired’ access to the internet has been restored on teaching PCs, in PC suites and in the library.

However, staff and students have complained that wired access has still not been restored in many parts of the campus, and that they cannot connect to temporary wifi hotspots.

CITY TRIBUNE

Publicans in antigen plea to Government

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Johnny Duggan of the Vintners Association: Antigen tests could help minimise restrictions at times when Covid is circulating widely.

Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.

Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.

Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.

But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.

They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.

They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.

Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council pays €120k to orange bollards’ company

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For a while, the joke was that just like Londoners with rats, people in Galway were never more than two feet away from an orange bollard. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Do you remember last year, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Government fired a heap of cash at local authorities to do stuff – any stuff – under the general guise of ‘mobility’?

And then do you remember, we all tentatively emerged from our cocoons and discovered the city centre had been overrun by a new species, the orange bollard?

The running joke for some time locally was that – just like rats in London – in Galway you’re never more than two feet away from an orange bollard.

Yeah, well, the company that supplied Galway City Council with those gaudy orange bollards was paid over €120,000 for transport equipment during the pandemic.

Not all of it was spent on bollards that are so bright they can, like the Great Wall of China, be seen from space. But a fair chunk of it was.

According to records released to Galway City Tribune, under Freedom of Information (FOI), the Council made dozens of payments to Drogheda-based IPL Group Ltd between February 2020 and May 2021.

The amount paid to IPL Group during that time totalled over €120,000. Records indicate that as much as €67,510 of this outlay was on bollards, including semi-permanent orange ones.

A little over €30,000 was spent by the Council in May and June 2020, as we emerged from lockdown; including thousands on orange and white, and black and white, road flexi-bollards with reflective tape.

In July, it spent €12,000 on black and white quick-flex bollards; and in September, it ordered more orange, and black and white bollards to the value of €18,000. Last February, the records show, the Council spent a further €6,500 on more orange and white bollards with reflective resin tape.

As well as bollards, over €50,000 was spent with IPL Group on speed ramps, pole-retention sockets and plugs, and Weebol Flex signs, a bollard variation.

We don’t know how many bollards the Council bought off IPL, nor do we know the price per bollard.

The City Council said: “The unit price of each item was redacted. This is because the cost of the items will be known to competitors, and they may contain discounts from the supplier to Galway City Council. Disclosure of this unit price may jeopardise the competitive position of the supplier in that they may be undercut in future tender competitions by competitors as they will know what they charged for these items to Galway City Council.

“Furthermore, the release of this information may reasonably be expected to prejudice the conduct or outcome of contractual or other negotiations of the supplier to whom the information relates. Release of records describing a possible discount to Galway City Council may affect any negotiation with another consumer or purchaser.

“The number of units procured per item was also redacted, as it may be the case that the total price may be divided by the number of units procured and may give an indication of unit price.”

Aside from the nonsense that the City Council won’t reveal the price per bollard for fear its supplier is undercut – and by extension it and the ratepayer might get cheaper bollards – was it money well spent?

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Tommy Tiernan among acts in Róisín Dubh comedy line-up

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Tommy Tiernan: Chat show host, actor and, above all, comedian.

Tommy Tiernan will perform his brand-new show, Tomfoolery, in Leisureland on Thursday and Friday, February 25 and 26.

The show, being presented by the Róisín Dubh, is billed as “a high-energy mix of outrageous ideas and whimsical flights of fancy”.

Comedian, actor and, more recently, chat-show host Tommy is performing a series of warm-up gigs in the Róisín in January  for the main event – they sold out within minutes of going on sale last week.

In a comedy career spanning 25 years, Tommy has toured extensively at home and abroad, and guested on top TV shows including three appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman in the US. He’s also has had his own one-hour special broadcast on Comedy Central USA. More recently, Tommy has begun presenting a talk show on RTÉ, an improvised live programme where he has no idea of who his guests are until they appear on set. And he’s a better chat-show host than anyone else in this country, by a country mile. But it’ll be comedy that he’ll be focusing on in Leisureland on February 25 and 26. Tickets for those shows are €35.

The Róisín is on a comedy roll and will present Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience in April at the Galmont Hotel.

This version of Basil, Sybil and Manuel from Australia’s Interactive Theatre has played more than 500 sell-out shows in Ireland in the past decade – 20 of them in Galway City. Some of the show’s scenes will be familiar from TV, some will be off-the-cuff but all will have a ‘Faulty’ seasoning. Everything that can go wrong, does in this two hours of “controlled chaos and hilarity” where dinner is part of the act.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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