Cybercrime hit 76% of councils last year, says survey

25 Sep 17

Cybercrime has affected 76% of local councils in the last year, according to figures from the IT security firm Malwarebytes.

An iGov survey of 38 local authorities in the UK taken in June showed that more than three quarters of respondents were subject to either a malware, virus or Trojan attack while 50% were victims of ransomware attempts.

The report Cyber Security: Threats and Opportunities Across Local Government highlighted a lack of understanding regarding cyberattacks and how to combat them at a local government level.

This has led to a falling level of confidence in a number of the solutions currently employed to combat these incidents, the analysis found.

Most councils labelled their existing legacy systems as inadequate to deal with modern threats and 72% said it was difficult to successful integrate new systems and applications.

The report, which came out on Wednesday last week, stated: “This illustrates that for many local government organisations old, outdated technology is having a negative impact on managing cyber-risk.”

Anthony O’Mara, vice president for the EMEA region at Malwarebytes, said: “The threat of cyber-crime is on the up, driven by career criminals that are highly skilled, innovative and will stop at nothing to target organisations that hold people’s private information.

“This determination was perfectly demonstrated by the recent WannaCry attack and the devastating effect it had on the NHS."

He said other high profile incidents, such as a ransomware that crippled Lincolnshire Council, provided further evidence of just how devastating this type of crime can be.

Lincolnshire's computer systems were closed for four days at the start of last year when they were hit when a malware ransome attack, demanding £1m.  

The top three concerns for local councils when it comes to a potential cyberattack according to the survey are the loss of sensitive data (53%), financial repercussions (53%) and the expected impact on service delivery (41%).

“It’s clear from these findings that there is widespread awareness of the threat of cyber crime amongst high ranking local government officials but many are not yet confident in their ability to deal with it,” O’Mara said.

He urged public sector bodies to partner with cyber-security firms that not only provide 24/7 evolving protection against these complex threats but also provide a educational and consultative role for their users.

The Reform think-tank has recently called for an increase to the police budget to help them tackle the growing problem of cybercrime.

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