Garda chief used a private email, but varied the password
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has insisted she used a mix of letters, numbers and symbols and regularly changed the password on the Gmail account she used to access sensitive material.
The garda chief last night admitted using a private email account to access files - but said "all recommended security measures" were taken.
In a statement, gardai confirmed that due to restrictions on their email system relating to size and storage, the Commissioner "occasionally used a Gmail address" to ensure that garda business has been discharged effectively.
It said that at "all times" the information being transmitted was treated sensitively.
"The Commissioner takes all recommended security measures when using Gmail such as regularly changing the password, using a mix of letters, numbers and symbols for the password, and independent device authentication," it said.
"It is standard procedure and an essential requirement that all Garda personnel with mobile devices have Gmail accounts installed on these devices by Garda ICT Security personnel to ensure such devices are constantly secured and correctly configured."
The Policing Authority is expected to quiz Ms O'Sullivan over the controversy this week.
Her statement noted that An Garda Siochana's policy on email use dates from 2012 and does not take into account advances in technology. It has recently been reviewed and a new policy is being finalised.
"An Garda Siochana has strict security controls in relation to the use and access to Garda IT systems. Devices issued to the Commissioner are secured by secure connections and utilise strong encryption technologies," the statement added.
It noted that access to the Garda Pulse database, which records crimes, is segregated to ensure no garda data is stored on the device.
The statement concluded: "An Garda Siochana is satisfied that the Commissioner's systems are secure and there is no evidence that they have ever been compromised.
"The Commissioner is well aware of her obligations to protect national security and policing operations and would under no circumstances allow them to be compromised."
Ms O'Sullivan will submit a report on the matter to the Department of Justice and Equality, and the Policing Authority.