Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has finally admitted that it has suffered a debilitating ransomware attack - three weeks after staff were first forced to revert to pen and paper.
The Council claims that it has had to rebuild servers and its website at part of its recovery from the attack, as well as a temporary call centre. The attack took place on Saturday, 8th February. Council leader Mary Lanigan also claimed that frontline services had not been significantly affected.
"On Saturday, February 8, Redcar and Cleveland Council was the victim of a ransomware cyber-attack which targeted the council's IT servers," Lanigan told the local Evening Gazette newspaper.
She continued: "Our absolute priority since the first day of the attack has been to protect our front-line services, ensuring the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable people in our community, while rebuilding our IT systems so they can return to full functionality.
"Significant progress has been made. Our staff, working alongside support from the Government, continue to work tirelessly round the clock to minimise any disruption or delays.
"All front-line 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."
However, there had been delays in allocating and confirming secondary school places, she admitted.
Lanigan also indicated that the Council had notified the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), in contrast to Travelex when its systems succumbed to ransomware on New Year's Eve. While it admitted that it had suffered a ransomware attack that took much its IT systems offline for a month, it asserted that it had no evidence that data had been downloaded by the attackers.
The first ransomware was the AIDS Trojan, created in 1989 by Dr Joseph Popp, with ransomware as cyber crime taking off more than a decade ago.
Although there was a hiatus in mid-2018 as cyber criminals shifted their attention to ‘crypto-jacking' - taking over compromised PCs or servers to conduct cryptocurrency mining - to take advantage of the spike in value of Bitcoin, they have returned to ransomware following the decline in value of Bitcoin, Monero and other cryptocurrencies.
Redcar is far from the first council to succumb to ransomware, with Lincolnshire County Council's network being taken down in January 2016.
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