Council investigating extent of cyber attack that affected website and systems

9 November 2023, 20:14

Woman uses laptop
Cyber attacks. Picture: PA

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar suffered a suspected ransomware attack and it is currently uncertain of the extent of the damage.

A cyber attack which disrupted access to a council website and its systems is being investigated with the relevant authorities to establish the full impact of the crime, officials have said.

On Tuesday, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) suffered a suspected ransomware attack.

The website remains down and the local authority says it is currently uncertain of the extent of the damage caused by the attack.

A ransomware attack is where hackers maliciously infiltrate an organisation’s website or systems, stealing sensitive data which they in turn use for monetary gain.

The council says it is working alongside Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to establish the full impact of Tuesday’s incident.

A council spokesperson said: “While investigative work continues, the Comhairle’s priority in response to this incident remains to restore and secure services, ensuring their continued delivery to those in our communities who need them most.

“One key aspect of achieving this aim has been work on the processing of benefit and support payments.

“While payments have been made to the public, restrictions to file access has affected other scheduled payments.

“The impact to IT systems has also meant that invoices due to creditors cannot be paid at this time.”

The spokesperson added: “The Comhairle appreciates the impact late payments can have and is working to resolve these issues as soon as possible.

“The Comhairle will be in contact with the affected individuals to provide updates and support.

“The Comhairle’s email system is now restored and work is ongoing to redirect numbers for key public services.

“A temporary website is also in development which will allow members of the public to access key information.”

Temporary phone numbers for social care and social work services can be found on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s page on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The council says its human resources, occupational health and ardseileach care home can be contacted on their usual telephone numbers.

A spokesperson for NCSC said: “We are working with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to fully understand the impact of an incident.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is aware that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is investigating a significant IT incident.

“Officials are in contact with the council and are offering support.”

Police Scotland was contacted for comment.

By Press Association

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