Local Authority Meeting Excludes Public

The way an organisation deals with the aftermath of a cyber attack can sometimes make or break the relationship it has with stakeholders, employees, customers and the local community.

Following on from their cyber attack which has seen their IT systems ‘down’, since 8th February 2020, Redcar and Cleveland Council expelled members of the public and press from a meeting in which their IT situation would be discussed.

A ransomware attack has been blamed for the disruption, and as of yet the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that no ransom has been paid to the cyber criminals.

The local authority took the decision to exclude the public and press from the meeting to prevent “sensitive” information being discussed.

Steve Newton, Assistant Director of Governance, said:

“There is still a criminal investigation ongoing and I’m not quite sure where these questions will lead.”

However, people were still uncertain as to which services were affected by the cyber attack. At the resources committee meeting, Sue Jeffrey, Labour councillor aired this question. She asked:

“So thinks like house searches, the planning portal, registration, building and control – all those sorts of things – access to historical files, regeneration projects, financial transactions?”

Once this question was asked, the public and press were asked to leave prior to any answer being given, on the grounds of confidentiality.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) are still investigating the attack, with experts from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) remaining on-site at the local authority helping in the recovery stage.

In a previous statement, Council leader Mary Lanigan, said it might be “some time” before Redcar and Cleveland’s IT capabilities were fully restored.