The Health Service Executive, the National Cyber Security Centre and a number of hospitals and pharmaceutical providers have participated in a large-scale European cyber exercise.

The programme tested responses to a major simulated cyber attack.

In May 2021, the HSE was the victim of a widescale ransomware attack which caused months of disruption and could end up costing €100 million.

Cyber Europe 2022, organised by the European Cyber Security Agency, saw participation from 29 countries and over 800 cyber security experts.

The exercise involved a simulated scenario whereby a cyber attack escalated into an EU-wide cyber crisis, with the threat of personal medical data being released.

"Having dealt with a real-life cyber incident affecting the health sector, during the HSE ransomware attack in 2021, the NCSC was well placed to deploy a lot of the lessons learned," said Joseph Stephens, Head of Engagement at the NCSC.

"The scenario, which involved serious attacks across the entire EU, also allowed us to exercise and coordinate with our partners through EU Cyber Crisis Networks, leaving us better prepared to collaborate during any real-life situations," he added

A detailed analysis will now take place, following the exercise, to identify any gaps or scope for further improvement.