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More than a quarter of UK councils infected with ransomware

25 Sep 2017

A new study from Barracuda Networks has revealed a stark fact – the data the council holds about you is not as safe as you might think.

The report from the cloud-enabled security and data protection solutions provider delved into findings of its Freedom of Information (FoI) request issued to 430 UK councils.

It’s clear they present an attractive target for hackers, as at 27 percent, more than a quarter of UK councils have fallen victim to ransomware attacks.

This equates to 115 councils that were victims of ransomware, with 43 percent asserting that hadn’t been successfully attacked by ransomware and the remaining 30 percent declining to respond due to their IT services being outsourced.

Perhaps the one positive note from the report is that of those affected, not one UK council admitted to paying the ransom.

Encouragingly, the reason for not paying is because they had backed up their data, with 70 percent of respondents stating they have a backup system in place.

Again, Barracuda Networks asserts the remaining 30 percent likely didn’t respond due to their IT services being outsourced as no councils admitted to not having a backup system in place.

“While it’s promising that the majority of councils affected were able to remediate ransomware attacks quickly due to their backup system working correctly, it’s still disappointing that so many of them fell victim to ransomware in the first place,” says senior vice president Internaitonal at Barracuda Networks, Chris Ross.

Barracuda Networks says the public sector’s digital transformation is actually putting citizen data at risk.

Digital transformation is a term thrown around a lot and something that is inevitable as the UK public sector (and those around the world) continues its cost-saving push towards bringing ever more services online, however, Barracuda Networks affirms this also means the amount of data being stored and the risk posed to that data both increase.

According to Barracuda Networks, there’s a clear surging amount of citizen data held by these organisations that needs protecting, with UK councils now backing up more than 27,604 terabytes (TB) collectively and each council on average backing up 64 TB.

“Although having a backup system has undeniably helped many organisations to avoid paying the ransom, backup should not be their only means of defence,” says Ross.

“With the new European Union (EU) GDPR around the corner, the UK public sector needs to ensure it employs a cyber security strategy that protects all attack vectors and surfaces to keep citizen data safe and avoid the upcoming large fines for data breaches.”

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