Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has said the Government has a regularly reviewed plan in place to deal with its cyber security.

He said Government agencies and relevant departments are developing a computer emergency response team.

Mr Rabbitte was speaking as he arrived at a conference on cyber security organised by the Institute of International and European Affairs.

He said the Government is very conscious of cyber security.

The task of Government and industry is to ensure systems and networks are as safe as possible to inspire confidence and trust in the privacy of data and information so the digital economy can grow and prosper, he added.

A spokesperson for the minister also confirmed a Government Computer Emergency Response Team is effectively in place.

He said the CERT had been put in place as part of a European-wide approach to cyber security and that all member states are setting up such teams.

The Irish CERT has yet to receive official approval from the European Commission but that is expected to happen next year.

The chief advisor on cyber security to US President Barack Obama Michael Daniel has said his country is committed to rebuilding trust with its allies after the leaking of information about extensive US surveillance.

Mr Daniel said the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden had added an "extra dimension of complexity" to his discussions with counterparts around the globe. 

He said he believed that the shared challenges of cyber-security could provide an opportunity to rebuild trust.

Mr Daniel will address the conference on cyber-security and will also meet with the Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes.

He is responsible for devising the US's national cyber security strategy, said the threat of online attacks had increased since he came to the job in 2011. 

One of the top threats was the potential for destructive attacks on critical infrastructure - such as electricity and water supplies, he added.

Actors had moved from simple website defacements to destructive attacks, he said. 

The internet "surface" the US is trying to protect is getting bigger and malicious software was becoming more sophisticated and easier to use.

He said the trends were not favourable and that hackers were more willing to be destructive.

Mr Daniel also said the sort of security breach which hit the Ennis-based company Loyaltybuild last week were becoming more common and were not unique to Ireland or the US.

Companies warned to monitor use of data

An Irish special advisor on internet security to the European law enforcement agency, Europol, has said companies cannot outsource their responsibility to protect customer information.

Commenting to RTÉ's News at One about the Loyaltybuild breach, IT security expert Brian Honan said companies had a responsibility to ensure that any third party they engage with has the proper security in place.

A number of Irish companies who were involved with Loyaltybuild have been affected by the data breach.

Mr Honan said companies were legally obliged under the data protection act to protect information entrusted to them by customers.

He said that customers should make sure when they hand over data to organisations that they have been reassured that information will be protected.

"A lot of companies do outsource key functions or other functions to third parties, because that's not their core business.

"Those companies do have a responsibility themselves to ensure that any third parties they engage with have the proper security in place, because you can transfer or outsource the job or the task but you cannot outsource or transfer the responsibility for that information."

He said it was important that if companies did not need to store information that they should not store it.

Mr Honan said information on the Loyaltybuild situation had been drip fed out, and some of it was contradictory.

He said from a publicity and brand protection point of view this had not helped any of the organisations involved.