135,000 Residents Affected By Ongoing Council Cyber Attack

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is looking into a cyber attack on Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s website.

The cyber attack is still ongoing and has had repercussions for some of the 135,000 residents who are now unable to access online services.

The Council notified the ICO themselves, however one expert believes the Council has fallen victim to a ransomware attack.

The ICO issued a statement which said:

“[The authority] has made us aware of an incident and we are assessing the information.”

The Council is being supported by the National Crime Agency and revealed that some of the services that were taken offline included online appointment bookings, planning documents, social care advice and council housing complaints systems.

Although experts have commented on what they believe the nature of the attack is, the Council has yet neither confirmed or denied they type of attack they suffered on 9th February 2020.

Council leader Mary Lanigan said “systems are being rebuilt” and they had “a massive team here – including cyber security experts – working around the clock flat out to get it fixed.”

The Council leader added:

“We’re making some progress, but we think this may be a longer term, a few weeks, and it may even take longer than that.”

Following the attack, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council released the following statement:

“We are still able to receive and answer limited calls and emails and we will be prioritising urgent messages.

“There may be a slight delay in dealing with non-urgent calls and messages as the council’s website is currently down.

“Our teams are working hard to resolve the problem and we would like to thank residents for their continued patience at this time.”

One jobseeker told BBC Radio Tees he usually relied on computers at the local library because he does not have any internet at home, but they were currently out of service.

He said:

“There’s quite a few people I see [in the library] and they’re worried about it, whether they are going to get sanctioned.

“I’m not trying to get out of looking for jobs, I’ll pay to get [online] if I have to.”

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said:

“The government has offered to help as much as they can in alleviating whatever fall-out there is from this.

“The National Cyber Security Centre said the council couldn’t have done any more when it comes to firewalls and things like that, the system was as protected as they could have been.

“It’s an incredibly difficult situation but the council is working flat out.”

Security researcher Kevin Beaumont said:

“It seems almost certain they have suffered a severe ransomware incident.

“The serious nature of the attack and the impact it has had should raise eyebrows with UK authorities about the need to put more resources into tackling cyber crime groups.”

Although the authority isn’t explaining what is behind the attack which is bordering on almost three weeks of disrupted service, it is usually recommended that organisations are open and honest about the cyber attacks they’re facing.