Ireland has been warned by the United States that storing large amounts of data makes it an attractive target for cyber-criminals.
The caution was uttered by John Demers, the assistant attorney general at the US National Security Division, while giving a keynote address at the IFPC2021 Cybersecurity and FinCrime conference.
Delegates representing more than 90 countries logged on to view the event as it was live streamed from Dublin on April 21.
Demers shared a quote from nineteenth-century robber and gang leader Jesse James, who drily stated that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is.” Framing James’ criminal activity in a modern setting, Demers said: “Why would you do a cyber-intrusion in Ireland? Because that’s where the data is.”
“Ireland has developed a wonderful ecosystem for US and European companies to thrive in, benefiting the companies, countries and Irish citizens,” added Demers.
“Having created that environment, it’s important to note that Ireland is now also a target for cybercriminals.”
Demers went on to say that Ireland needs to live up to the trust placed in it by American companies when it comes to data protection. He said that maintaining the security of data “can be achieved through good funding and drawing talent from the companies and all over the world.”
A January report by law firm DLA Piper found that Ireland had the sixth-highest data-breach rate in Europe and the third-highest rate when tallied per capita.
It isn’t just companies from the United States that have trusted the Emerald Isle with their data. Some of the world’s largest companies have chosen to site their European headquarters in Ireland.
Ireland is home to more than 54 data centers, including sites operated by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. The largest concentration of data centers in the country is in southwest Dublin.
In September 2020, Paul Budde Communication predicted that the data center market in Ireland would be worth $3bn by 2025.
According to Ireland’s transmission system operator EirGrid, data centers and other large users will consume 29% of Ireland’s electricity by 2028. The Irish Times reported that worldwide, data center electricity consumption is expected to reach only 8% by 2030.