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September 15, 2017

Can you trust your local authority to keep your data safe?

Why is there such a high amount of organisations falling victim to cyber-attacks?

By April Slattery

Nearly 60% of local authorities across the UK are at risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack due to lack of security according to Freedom of Information requests.

Out of 281 English local authorities, a survey revealed that 58% of respondents didn’t have a cyber-security strategy in place. Within this number a fifth of organisations had suffered a cyber-attack in the last year.

A fifth of companies at risk have already suffered an attack.

Tara Athanasiou, director of intelligence at Digital Health said: “Our research highlights a significant absence of cyber strategies in many local authorities.

“This will be a real concern for the citizens that use and trust public services with their data, more so after the high profile WannaCry ransomware attacks targeted at the NHS.”

Over the last year the UK has seen many organisations fall victim to cyber-attacks first and foremost the NHS WannaCry attack that hit trusts in May. Following the WannaCry attack other local NHS trusts have been victim to further attacks due to lack of security systems.

In addition, other local authorities such as the energy sector have had warnings that they could be next to fall victim.

A survey carried out by the Government earlier this year revealed that almost seven in ten large companies had suffered a breach or attack on their systems. The most common types of attacks were scam emails, viruses and malware. Organisations storing personal data were found to be more likely to be attacked.

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In response to the attacks across the industries the government is expected to spend a further £1.9bn on security systems over the next five years, according to Public Cyber Security. The investment aims to better protect citizens, public services and businesses and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.

Ciaran Martin, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, said: “UK businesses must treat cyber security as a top priority if they want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the UK’s vibrant digital economy.

“By getting the basic defences right, businesses of every size can protect their reputation, finances and operating capabilities.”

Digital Health Intelligence’s research was was based on enquiries to 281 English local authorities via Freedom of Information requests made between February and June 2017.

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