Ireland: Cyber-Security & Minimising Litigation Risk

Last Updated: 29 May 2015
Article by Joanelle O’Cleirigh, Gregory Glynn and Pearse Ryan
Most Read Contributor in Ireland, August 2019

The Government's Draft National Risk Assessment 2015 names cyber-security as one of the potential risks for Ireland in 2015. Cyber-security is not 'just an IT issue'. It is a business critical issue that cannot be ignored and should be viewed as part of an organisation's overall risk management strategy. Regulators, particularly in the financial services industry, are increasingly asking whether organisations are 'cyber-attack' ready. The Central Bank recently commenced cyber-security inspections as part of its enforcement priorities for 2015. Organisations subject to inspection will face questions about their cyber-security risk assessment, business continuity plan, insurance, network controls and so on.

A key part in any cyber-security strategy is understanding the legal implications of a cyber-security breach. There is the obvious cost in terms of reputational damage and business disruption, but there is also the cost of exposure to litigation. The tips set out below will help reduce litigation risk and minimise the value of any potential claims.


Cyber-security is a relatively 'new' area and one that is constantly evolving. Keep yourself informed. Be aware of the most common types of security breach, e.g. systems failures and data corruption; viruses and malicious software; theft or fraud involving IT systems; incidents caused by staff; and attacks by hackers. Keep up-to-date with new initiatives to counter cyber-security threats.


Most organisations will understand the reputational damage that can be caused by a cyber-security breach and will be familiar with the possible data protection issues that can arise. However, they may not have considered the potential exposure to litigation. As a result of a cyber-security attack, an organisation may find itself in breach of an express or implied term to store customer data securely, or it may be liable in tort for failure to take reasonable security precautions when storing customer information. In addition, data subjects may take direct action under data protection legislation.


Cyber-security cannot be regarded as 'just an IT issue': it is a business-critical issue that cannot be ignored. Cyber-security should be a priority for any organisation. Managing cyber-security risk needs to be driven from the top down.


Ensure the IT department, the compliance officer, the legal department in your organisation and other business-services functions conduct a review of existing security processes. Identify what your organisation needs to protect (e.g. IP, customer details, etc) and identify potential areas of weakness. Consider instructing an external information security consultant to assess the effectiveness of existing security processes.


Ensure the IT department, the compliance officer and other external experts (e.g. IT/ legal) put in place a set of comprehensive policies and procedures, e.g. an information security policy and a home and mobile working policy. Ensure these policies accord with recognised best practice. This should help minimise the risk of claims in tort. It is also extremely important to put in place a comprehensive cyber-incident response plan.


Implement a training programme right across your organisation. Raise awareness of all policies. Ensure all employees are trained to identify, mitigate the risk of, and respond to cyber-security threats. Make employees at all levels aware of their obligations and responsibilities.


Confirm whether your organisation's overall insurance policies cover losses arising from a cyber-security attack. If not, consider taking out a cyber-insurance policy. It is advisable to ensure that any such policy makes provision for incident response assistance. Check also that you have adequate cover for business interruption services.


Check whether your organisation's key supply agreements address liability as a result of supplier failure to fulfil express contractual obligations due to a cyber-attack. Check also whether there is a threat to your organisation where a supplier which has access to your system is compromised.


Review key agreements to determine whether business suppliers are contractually obliged to provide business continuity support in the event of a cyber-attack on your organisation. Check also supplier ongoing supply obligations in circumstances where they are the subject of a cyber-attack.


In the case of agreements where your organisation is the supplier, check whether there is an obligation to continue supplying goods/performing services where your organisation is subject to a cyber-attack.


Some cyber-attacks may be specifically targeted at an organisation's intellectual property, particularly in cases where this is the organisation's most valuable asset. Ensure all IP is properly registered and protected. Ensure policies are in place to deal with an attack on your IP.


Confirm whether your organisation is subject to any specific cyber-security regulations. For example, a listed company will need to consider whether the event of a breach constitutes inside information/ price sensitive information which needs to be disclosed. This is an issue which may require input from your external lawyers.


The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has issued a Code of Practice for dealing with Personal Data Security Breach. The Code recommends (except in cases of telcos and ISPs, where it requires) that all incidents in which personal data has been put at risk be reported to the DPC as soon as the data controller becomes aware of the incident. Anyone affected by the incident should also be notified. Familiarise yourself with this Code of Practice and ensure that all policies and procedures are aligned with it.


Be prepared for negative publicity in the event of a security breach and know how to manage this. If criminal proceedings are taken against the perpetrator, expect the case to get media attention and your organisation to be named, even though it will not be a party to the proceedings. Have 'Guidelines' in place to assist those who may be responsible for issuing press releases and ensure that particular care is taken where court proceedings are in being or where your organisation is a listed company. In such circumstances, your external lawyers should review any proposed public comment.


Ensure someone in your organisation is responsible for keeping records of all cyber-security incidents and the measures taken to deal with these.


In the event of a cyber-attack, consult your lawyers immediately. Lawyers can assist with incident management and advise on the legal implications of the breach and any specific obligations on your organisation. The involvement of lawyers is also crucial to attract legal privilege, which may prove to be extremely important in the event of litigation.


If a security breach occurs, learn from this. Review and update any policies and procedures accordingly.

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Practice Guides
by Mondaq Advice Centres
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions