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Technology / Cybersecurity

Hackers demand ransom after attacking Lincolnshire County Council with malware

Unidentified hackers have demanded a £350 ransom after attacking Lincolnshire County Council’s computer systems with malware.

The council’s digital database has been closed for the past five days, affecting around 300 staff, after a staff member opened an email infected with malware.

It was initially reported that hackers demanded a £1m ransom, but the council said it was actually asked to pay £350.

The council said that it was a zero-day attack, adding that it was the first organisation to have been targeted with this particular malware, with security experts not aware of the ransomware.

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Lincolnshire County Council chief information officer Judith Hetherington-Smith told the BBC, "People can only use pens and paper, we’ve gone back a few years.

"It happened very quickly. Once we identified it we shut the network down, but some damage is always done before you get to that point – and some files have been locked by the software."

She added that several of the files hit can be restored from the back-up, indicating that all the data was not lost in the attack.

The council said it was unfortunate to be the first victim, and was confident it had correct security measures to deal with the situation.

Lincolnshire Police is investigating into the attack to try and identify who would make such demands. The Information Commissioner’s Office said it was aware of the attack.

Last year, a research by Clearswift revealed that UK businesses are the slowest to identify anomalies in their networks compared to other major markets.

UK firms estimate that it takes them an average of nine hours to identify unusual activity on their networks, compared to seven hours in the US, eight hours in Germany, and only five hours in Australia.

Last October, British telecom giant TalkTalk experienced a massive cyber attack, in which 4% of customers’ data was accessed in the breach.

The cyber-attack saw the personal details of 156,959 customers accessed, with 15,656 bank account numbers and sort codes stolen.

 
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CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.