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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Council being targeted by cyber attacks ‘all the time’

Leeds City Council is being targeted by cyber attacks “all the time”, its leader has said.

Councillor James Lewis made the remarks as he justified an £8m upgrade of the local authority’s IT systems, which local authority bosses say will make them less vulnerable to an attack.

A ransomware attack on Redcar and Cleveland Council, in the north-east, was initially thought to have cost taxpayers more than £10m when it happened in 2020.

Although the actual cost was later revealed to be less, local residents were left without online council services for weeks.

Speaking at a meeting of senior councillors on Wednesday, Leeds’ Liberal Democrat group leader Stewart Golton said the Redcar and Cleveland case showed new systems were needed.

He told the council’s executive board: “£8m for an authority the size of ours sounds like a good forward plan of investment, as long as it can be guaranteed what we’re getting is top end in terms of fighting cyber attacks.”

The council’s director of resources, Neil Evans, said the threat of cyber attacks meant expensive IT upgrades were now an “inevitability”.

He said the local authority had once tried to make its computers systems last as long as possible to save money, but that this approach was no longer viable and a “false economy”.

Councillor Lewis added: “It’s fair to say the council is being targeted by cyber attacks all the time.

“You’re quite right Councillor Golton, the negative consequences for councils which have been affected is why sometimes we need to spend money.

“Just because we’ve not had the negative implications others have had doesn’t mean we’re not being targeted all the time.”

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