Expert warns hackers could destroy DNA database


A cyberattack on Ireland’s DNA database could destroy crucial evidence and ruin the outcome of criminal trials, according to a leading computer science academic.

The database is used to investigate and solve crimes including robberies, firearms and drug offences, aggravated sexual assaults and aggravated burglaries.

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An oversight board that oversees the integrity and security of the Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) database said it would be subject to “active review” in a new report released this week. Although the report did not find any weaknesses in the system, it did raise concerns about the lack of security testing of the ISP’s IT infrastructure.

A cyberattack on Ireland’s DNA database could destroy crucial evidence and ruin the outcome of criminal trials, according to a leading computer science academic. Photo: Shutterstock

It was expected that a cyberattack simulation would be launched last year, to test the strength of the database security. However, this has not happened yet.

The oversight committee said the “robustness and security” of the systems that underpin “the successful and secure operation of the DNA database system” will “continue to be under active review” in 2022.

Dr Simon Woodworth, senior lecturer in business information systems at University College Cork, said: ‘There is no evidence to suggest anything is wrong with the FSI database. However, we don’t know how secure it is. There were plans to move the DNA database to a new area of ​​the Ministry of Justice. As part of this work, an intrusion test [a simulated cyber attack] would be implemented to mimic the behavior of a criminal hacker. This is designed to identify weaknesses in security systems. It was supposed to be done last year, but nothing has happened yet.

Hacker DNA Database
The database is used to investigate and solve crimes including robberies, firearms and drug offences, aggravated sexual assaults and aggravated burglaries. Photo: Shutterstock

The FSI has confirmed that the IT security tests will not be carried out until the end of the third quarter of this year.

They also added that the computer system behind the DNA database is secure.

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