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April 3, 2023updated 21 Aug 2023 3:48pm

Capita confirms cyberattack caused widespread outages for UK clients

The company says Friday's outage was the result of a breach. Investigations are continuing.

By Claudia Glover

Capita has confirmed it was hit by a cyberattack last Friday. The breach affected access to internal Microsoft Office 365 applications at the IT services and consultancy firm, causing disruption to numerous clients across the UK, including government organisations.

Capita confirms cyberattack to the London Stock Exchange. (Photo by Casimiro PT/Shutterstock)

No data was compromised in the attack, Capita said in a statement issued to shareholders this morning. Tech Monitor has contacted the company to ask for further details.

Capita confirms cyberattack

The company is among the UK government’s largest suppliers, holding public sector contracts worth £6.5bn across outsourced IT services and other areas. It has 50,000 employees and operates across Europe, India and South Africa, as well as the UK.

The attack reportedly caused disruption to numerous clients, although Capita says most of its services remained online.

“On Friday 31 March Capita PLC experienced a cyber incident primarily impacting access to internal Microsoft Office 365 applications. This caused disruption to some services,” the statement reads.

“Working in collaboration with our specialist technical partners, we have restored Capita colleague access to Microsoft Office 365 and we are making good progress restoring remaining client services in a secure and controlled manner,” it continued, adding that more updates would be released as soon as possible.

Local authorities impacted by Capita cyberattack

Problems started on Friday morning, with Capita staff reportedly unable to access their systems. Later in the day, the company released a statement on Twitter, confirming it was experiencing a “technical problem”.

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In an announcement released later that evening, the company elaborated by saying: “We would like to reassure any customers whose services have been affected that we are making good progress and working closely with our technical partners to swiftly resolve the issues.”

Capita clients include the British military and the NHS. It helps the BBC collect its licence fee and it provides customer service phone lines to several local authorities. 

A source familiar with the outage told The Guardian that the National Cyber Security Centre, the Cabinet Office and other government agencies had been alerted to the incident, given the group’s role in sensitive areas such as Royal Navy training centres and security at Ministry of Defence bases. People working at impacted sites, including some relating to critical national infrastructure, resorted to using radios, pens and paper as a result of the attack, the source claimed.

Local authorities using Capita services, including Barnet, Barking and Dagenham, Lambeth and South Oxfordshire, all highlighted issues caused by the incident. Barking and Dagenham Council said that as a result of a “technical fault with our out-of-hours service systems, callers may experience slight delays in us being able to respond to their calls throughout the weekend.” 

A statement from the Cabinet Office said: “We are aware of an incident affecting some systems within Capita and we are in regular contact with the company as they continue to investigate the issue.”

A high profile cyberattack also hit storage giant Western Digital this week.

Read more: Microsoft is now a cybersecurity titan. That could be a problem

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