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Teesside council is victim of cyber attack

The council has been the victim of a cyber attack. Credit: PA Images

Calls have been made for a "serious review" of a Teesside council's IT systems after its website went down following a 'cyber-attack'.

Redcar and Cleveland Council's website was attacked on Saturday morning and remains inoperative displaying only an error message for those trying to log on.

The council says there is no evidence that any personal data has been lost and has added that it is investigating after the attack, prioritising essential services.

But the failure has led to calls for a serious review of the council's IT systems following the failure.

At a meeting of the council's Governance Committee, independent member Colin Monson, said IT security needed to be looked at as a priority.

He added:

I think this history of what has happened over the last couple of days is a clear indication that disaster recovery systems across the authority need a serious review.

I do find it surprising that a problem that was identified early on Saturday morning is left until Monday to be sorted out.

This is a serious disaster, not just a little upset, and I would have expected a team would be called in on Saturday morning.

– Colin Monson, Redcar & Cleveland Council

Committee chairman, Cllr Carole Morgan, intervened saying IT had been called in over the weekend.

Steve Newton, assistant director of governance, confirmed that Cllr Morgan was correct adding that the team had worked into the early hours to try and get the council's site up and running.

He said:

The IT team were working until midnight over the weekend to try and resolve this.

That wasn't possible. We have had to call some experts in who were on site today.

They're analysing the position and will hopefully be able to give some advice and give us a better idea of what we're dealing later today.

– Steve Newton, Redcar & Cleveland Council

A council spokesman said:

We are investigating what appears to be a cyber-attack on the council's IT servers.

We are currently working to resolve the issues as quickly as possible, alongside the relevant authorities.

Our priority remains our frontline services and these have continued as usual today.

– Council spokesman

The authority has passed details to Cleveland Police, and the force has confirmed it's received a report.

The spokesman added the council had "limited capacity" for phone calls.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the council to clarify if any residents' data was at risk as a result.

He said:

Investigations are continuing but at this stage, there is no evidence so far to suggest that any personal data has been lost outside the council's systems.

– Council spokesman

The reason for the attack is currently unclear, but cyber attacks are typically launched to access data, functions or other restricted areas of a computer system. Council websites are typically used by members of the public to pay council tax, report problems or view planning and licensing applications.