£1 million cost for council after Conficker infection

A shutdown of Ealing Council’s network was likely to have been the work of an infected memory stick - and forces a network-wide OS upgrade - to Windows XP.

A user on Ealing Council's computer network may end up costing it around 1 million after introducing the Conficker virus through a USB port.

A report released by the Council said that in May a user had likely introduced the virus to a PC that propagated itself and spread quickly, causing a major incident and a shutdown of the core ICT network at its offices at Perceval House.

Every office PC had to be scanned (around 1,800 in total), while all infected machines had to be rebuilt. However, four days later re-infection occurred in a single PC, which forced another emergency shutdown.

There were also 129,000 costs from delays in processing tickets, overtime, emergency ICT support, and lost income.

The reports said that, following the incident, Ealing Council examined changes it had to make, which will involve a council-wide upgrade to Windows XP at an estimated cost of 500,000.

There is also the cost of installing network security that will enable the council to control access to USB ports and monitor unusual activity, at an estimated cost of 50,000 to 100,000.

Another 202,000 will be needed to rebuild PCs and systems, in addition to refreshing devices that are more than five years old.

"The council acted immediately to protect all data and ensure that essential frontline services could continue to operate," an Ealing council spokesperson said in a statement.

"Costs to the council included urgent work to recover computer systems and prevent the virus from spreading."

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