Redcar and Cleveland Council admits 'catastrophic' ransomware attack cost £7m

Mary Lanigan who leads Redcar and Cleveland Council says staff are now aware of what they should be looking out for when it comes to cyber attacks. Credit: PA

The leader of a council which faced months of disruption after a ransomware attac khas told a parliamentary committee that a cyber attack in 2020 was "catastrophic."

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council leader Mary Lanigan said the ransomware attack took out phones and computer systems, and caused eight months of disruption.

As a result it cost the authority more than £7 million.

Ms Lanigan admitted the council had not been prepared as best as it could have been.

Speaking in Westminster on Monday 30 January she said: "We didn't think that we were at risk.

"From my point of view, as leader of the council, perhaps the council had been a little lax, in not making sure that all elected members were up to speed and knew what they were looking at.

"That has since been sorted out, and now we're actually on the ball."

Ransomeware attacks are one of the most common forms of cyber attack. It involves a type of software which demands payment - usually in bitcoin - to unlock files which are maliciously encrypted or infected.

It is UK policy is for public services not to pay these ransoms.

The ransomware attack against Redcar and Cleveland Council happened in February 2020 rendering most of the council's IT systems inoperable.

Some council officials were even forced to use pen and paper in order to keep services running.

The council website had to be rebuilt and work was needed to ensure that home-working was safe for staff to do during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the attack an investigation by the National Crime Agency was launched alongside the National Cyber Security Centre and Cleveland police.

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