Several UK Councils are still Falling to Prey to Ransomware

It seems cybercriminals have grown fond of attacking UK councils. These cybercriminals first came into the limelight in May this year when the world was introduced to the terror of WannaCry that held the NHS and several organisations across the world (both state and privately owned) to ransom.

After that panic passed, a lot of people including UK councils hoped that would be the end of it. But alas, such is not the case. According to a report published by Barracuda Networks, more than 27% of UK councils have fallen prey to the antics of ransomware attacks. That’s more than a quarter of the councils in the UK who’ve been harassed by these faceless cybercriminals.

According to Barracuda’s report, 115 councils were over time hit by the ransomware attack but 43% of the councils (a little below half) claim that the attacks made against their systems proved to be unsuccessful. Meanwhile 30 per cent of the UK councils did not respond to Barracuda’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request on the ground that they’d outsourced their IT services.

Of all the councils affected, only one admitted to paying the demanded ransom to have their systems released by the cybercriminals. How much exactly was paid as ransom remains a mystery. But at least the good news is 99% of the councils didn’t pay ransom.

Why those that refused to pay wouldn’t give in to the threats of the attackers was because their firms had data backups – meaning they could simply scrub their system and have them restored from the backups. But only 70% of the affected firms had created these backups. The other 30% that refused to pay didn’t because their IT services had already being outsourced.

While it’s comforting to know a lot of the affected councils could effectively recover from the attack, it’s still a cause of concern that so many firms were successfully infiltrated by the malware. Perhaps the experience will help them prepare better against a future occurrence.

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