Lincolnshire County Council has shut down IT across the organisation after a suspected cyber attack in which sensitive personal information from its adult care system - including names, addresses, medical conditions, and dates of birth - were compromised.
Furthermore, systems containing staff data and their bank details may also have been breached. Employees at the council have been ordered to turn off their PCs while IT staff investigate the source of the breach and its extent, and members of the public have been urged to delay contacting the council until the incident has been dealt with.
The attack was identified yesterday, and the organisation is still dealing with the aftermath.
Lincolnshire County Council CIO Judith Hetherington Smith claimed that the organisation had been breached after malware was infiltrated onto the network, via email.
"We have a suspected security incident caused by malware. We closed down our systems very quickly to protect the data and are investigating the cause but at this stage have found no evidence of any breach," Hetherington Smith told local newspaper, The Lincolnite.
A spokesman added that the council had "suspended IT use until the extent of [the breach] is clear".
The latest reports indicate that the council responded following a mass delivery of phishing emails to the organisation. "The council has security systems in place to deal with this sort of incident," claimed the local newspaper in a report today. The council suggests that the payload contained "zero-day malware" - either malware exploiting otherwise unknown security flaws in common applications, or malware that has not been seen in the wild until now.
It continued: "Security procedures were immediately put into practice when the council became aware of the virus, and systems were closed down. Work has continued throughout the night to identify, remove and cleanse the malware from infected computers."
The council is now testing to ensure that the network and client devices are clean before restoring IT services later today.
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