Redcar Council Still Crippled By Ransomware Attack

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Pen and paper still being used. Northern local council admits its IT systems are still down, 19 days after a ransomware attack

IT systems at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council remained crippled, nearly three weeks after a devastating ransomware attack.

Early last week on 17 February Silicon UK first reported that council staff at Redcar and Cleveland Council had to revert to pen and paper after a “cyberattack on the council’s IT servers”.

The borough’s more than 135,000 residents have been without online services since 11am on Saturday, 8 February.

Still down

Ten days later after the initial Silicon UK report, a quick check of the website of Redcar and Cleveland Council on Thursday 27 February confirmed the problem is still ongoing, with a notice saying the council was still trying to bring its systems back online.

“Our teams are working hard to bring the RCBC website back online,” the notice reads.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience whilst we get this sorted out,” it added.

But it seems that getting this sorted out is taking longer than expected.

The BBC reported that the council has received a demand for money, but the good news is that so far there is no evidence that sensitive personal data had been stolen.

The council reportedly said it had been prioritising frontline services, and has now built a new server and website, as well as mobilising a temporary call centre, all of which indicates a backup failure at the council, after it was unable to restore systems in a timely manner.

The council has been working with the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency since the attack.

“Significant progress has been made,” Councillor Mary Lanigan, leader of the council, was quoted by the BBC as saying.

“All frontline services have continued, payments continue to be processed as normal, and there is no evidence so far to suggest any personal information has been removed from our servers,” Lanigan reportedly said.

“However, it may be some time before our IT capabilities are fully restored which may mean frustration for the public in dealing with us administratively,” she warned.

“As a council, we have always taken cyber security seriously, and we will continue to engage with the relevant authorities to ensure our systems are as secure as possible in the future,” she reportedly said.

Council attacks

Council have been hit before by ransomware and malware attacks.

Cumbrian council Copeland Borough said a ransomware attack in 2018 had cost it about £2 million.

In 2016 Lincolnshire County Council restored its systems days after a malware attack that forced it to revert to pen and paper.

In the US, San Francisco’s public transportation network and the city government of Atlanta were among the public-sector organisations to have been disrupted by such malware.

In December 2019 the City of New Orleans declared a state of emergency after all governmental computers were forced to shut down due to a ransomware attack.

In July 2019 Louisiana declared a state of emergency after school systems in Sabine, Morehouse, and Ouachita parishes in North Louisiana were hit by ransomware attacks.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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