Hackney Council targeted by "serious" cyber attack

Online services and IT systems have been disrupted by the ongoing security threat

Hackney Borough Council has been targeted by a serious cyber attack which has knocked its services and IT systems offline, the London-based local government body has admitted.

The East London-based council has disclosed little about the nature of the attack, or which services have been disrupted by the “serious” incident. Officials, however, are working with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as well as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) as part of an ongoing investigation.

“Hackney Council has been the target of a serious cyberattack, which is affecting many of our services and IT systems,” said the mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville.

“This investigation is at an early stage, and limited information is currently available. We will continue to provide updates as our investigation progresses. Our focus is on continuing to deliver essential frontline services, especially to our most vulnerable residents, and protecting data, while restoring affected services as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, some Council services may be unavailable or slower than normal, and our call centre is extremely busy. We ask that residents and businesses only contact us if absolutely necessary, and to bear with us while we seek to resolve these issues.”

The NCSC confirmed it’s aware of an incident affecting Hackney Borough Council, and is offering support to understand the impact of the incident.

Cyber attacks against local government bodies are fairly common, with research published in 2018 suggesting three-quarters of councils had suffered some form of cyber attack in the past year. When including phishing as an attack vector, a staggering 87% reported experiencing a form of cyber attack.

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The financial implications, too, are staggering, with an attack that affected Redcar and Cleveland council’s IT systems estimated to have cost in the region of £10.4 million

Part of the cost of the security incident, which took down the council’s website and local services in February 2020, included £2.4 million in remediation and replacement work for the body’s IT infrastructure. This is in addition to £3.4 million of costs incurred by individual departments, as well a further £1 million in losses due to a reduction of taxes collected.

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