Laura Sharman 15 October 2020

Councils have 'minimal' awareness of cyber-threats, think tank warns

Some councils are delaying the rollout of cyber security in order to reduce costs despite the increased risk of hacks due to the pandemic, a think tank has warned.

In a new report, Reform said the coronavirus pandemic has forced rapid digitisation in local government but many councils still have out-dated technologies and poor awareness of cyber security.

It found that many councils are unclear about what training is required for staff even though there has been a ‘surge’ of home working.

The think tank is urgently calling on the Government to mandate National Cyber Security Centre training for any council staff handling sensitive information. It also wants a kitemark for technology to be developed and yearly audits to ensure adherence to latest cyber policies.

Eleonora Harwich, report co-author and research director at Reform, said: ‘The resilience of our public services has already been tested to an unprecedented degree since the start of the pandemic. A WannaCry level attack now would be devastating, literally putting lives at risk.’

This week, Hackney Council was the target of a ‘serious cyber attack’ that has affected its IT systems and services.

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