Should UK Council's Prepare For The Worst?

September 28, 2017

Should UK Council's Prepare For The Worst?

By Annie Stroud

According to a recent report, over a quarter of UK councils have suffered at the hands of a Ransomware attack. The information came from the Freedom of Information, or FoI, which sent requests to 430 UK councils, asking if they had been a victim of Ransomware and if they had paid the ransom.

The report states that 115 councils have been hit with Ransomware in the last year, whilst 30% can neither confirm nor deny, as their IT is outsourced to private contractors.

Luckily 70% of the victims had a backup in place, meaning they did not fall into the trap and pay the ransom! They went straight to their last backup and restored their data quickly, with minimal downtime and no extra costs!

The survey estimated that 27.604TB of data is being stored by local councils across the UK, which averages around 64TB per council. The data holds vital information for each region as well as information regarding citizens, current plans/ projects and any news within the local area. Although most information is available for the public eye, the repercussions of the breach will undoubtedly affect the confidence citizens have in the various councils.

Derby city council reported two attacks in the past 12 months alone, whilst Lincolnshire county council were hit with the biggest Ransomware attack just over a year ago, with demand of a £1million ransom payment. Ransomware is rapidly becoming a hot topic for the public sector as more and more attacks are now encrypting personal data held by large public sector establishments.

In June this year, the Metropolitan Police were outed as ‘a fish swimming in a pool of sharks’ as it still has 18,000 computer systems running on Windows XP, an OS which Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014. This is due to the fact that is is known to be the least secure and most hackable office system, especially when patching has not been issued. It was also confirmed last week that the Greater Manchester Police still have over 20% of their machines running on Windows XP. This news came as quite a shock, as it was revealed during the recent outbreak of WannaCry, that systems running on Windows XP were particularly vulnerable to an attack.

It just goes to show that having a backup in place is vital when it comes to protecting personal data, especially that which is held within the public sector!

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