Councils need further cyber funding

The Local Government Association (LGA) says that councils needs more funding to ensure their computer systems, infrastructure and data are protected against cyber attacks.

As part of its Budget submission, the LGA is urging for funding for councils and local partner organisations to increase their collective capacity to respond to increasingly hostile cyber attacks, which have affected 52 per cent of UK businesses.

Latest figures indicate that UK businesses were subjected to nearly 65,000 cyber attacks in the three months of April to June 2017, a rise of 52 per cent on the first quarter of 2017. With more planned joined-up services leading to increased sharing of information and with malware attacks becoming more frequent and sophisticated, the LGA says more funding is needed to ensure local authorities do not expose themselves inadvertently to any cyber threat.

Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: “As local authorities work even more with partners on national initiatives - such as the integration of health and social care, children’s services and welfare reform programmes - councils need to share more sensitive and personal information with organisations including hospitals, GPs, care homes, schools, academies, police and probationary services.

“For this reason councils need to ensure confidential information is protected as securely as possible from the rising number of cyber attacks which can bring businesses to their knees, by putting their IT services out of action for days and compromising personal data. Some hackers hold their victims to ransom by demanding an extortionate fee is paid to restore IT systems back to normal, even though there is no guarantee this will happen.

“Investing in cyber security must be seen as an economic opportunity and we urge government to allocate funding to councils to build capacity to respond to the growing threat of cyber attacks and ensure the safeguarding of personal data is as strong as possible.”