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Cyber attack on Hackney Council is ‘morally repugnant’, says mayor

Mayor of Hackney is ‘incredibly angry’ at the cyber criminals behind the attack, which will continue to disrupt key council services for some time

The cyber attack on Hackney Council is “morally repugnant”, says Hackney mayor Phillip Glanville.

More than a week after the attack, which has affected key council services such as payments and applications, some services are still disrupted and may continue to be so for some time, according to the mayor.

“I am incredibly angry that organised criminals have chosen to attack us in this way, and in the middle of dealing with a global pandemic,” said Glanville. “It is morally repugnant, and is making it harder for us to deliver the services people rely on.”

The attack, which is being probed by the National Cyber Security Centre and the Information Commissioner’s Office, began on or around 13 October.

The exact nature of the attack, which bears the hallmarks of a ransomware attack, has not been revealed.

Glanville added: “Being clear and transparent is really important to the council and it would like to give more details about the nature of the attack and the impact on services, but it must also make sure that it does not inadvertently assist the attackers by doing so.”

He told local residents: “My commitment to you is that once we are able to say more, we will.”

The attack has hit the council’s legacy and non-cloud-based systems, including those for residents to make payments, logging repairs for tenants and approving applications.

The attack also affected new applications to join the council’s housing waiting list, for housing benefit, or for its council tax reduction scheme, although emergency homelessness advice and support remains available.

It also left residents unable to pay rent and service charges, council tax and business rate payments, and the council was unable to make any outgoing payments, such as housing and other benefits.

Read more about the Hackney cyber attack

  • Services remain disrupted two days after council was hit by a serious incident, as residents are warned to be on their guard against opportunists exploiting the disruption.
  • Services to residents of the London borough of Hackney are being disrupted by a cyber attack.
  • Inability to make housing benefit payments is likely to sting some tenants as Hackney cyber attack drags on.

The local authority has been working to rectify the payment issues, and vital payments such as housing benefits are now being made.

“We are quickly finding workarounds where we can, and some vital payments, including housing benefit payments, are now being made,” said Glanville. “We have also now put in place arrangements so that residents can report housing repairs to us and are working hard to put similar solutions in place for other services.”

The mayor added: “Where all payment systems are unavailable, nobody who is unable to make a payment to us – whether a fixed-penalty notice, rent payment or otherwise – will be financially penalised because of this attack.

“We know that many residents, businesses and partner organisations are concerned about the risk of data having been lost. I understand that concern and uncertainty, so early on, we reported the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office and are working closely with government experts to investigate this.

“This is a serious and complex criminal attack on public services, and we will do everything we can to ensure these attackers face justice. In the meantime, please bear with us if we aren’t providing some services to our usual standards. We’re working incredibly hard to restore them as quickly as we can.”

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