Action to reduce cyber attack risk to Blackpool Council services

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Town hall chiefs are using the latest tactics to protect Blackpool from the threat of cyber attacks after a strike on another council’s computer systems cost it £10m.

 

Tony Doyle, head of ICT (information and communications technology) at Blackpool Council, told a meeting of the audit committee the latest intelligence was being used to reduce the risk.

He was quizzed by members of the committee who referred to a cyber attack on Redcar and Cleveland Council’s computer systems in February 2020 which cost it £10.4m.

A council report said: “The ICT Service has several systems that are now proactively providing alerts to cyber threats in real time.

Staff are trained to be alert for possible cyber attacks

Staff are trained to be alert for possible cyber attacks

“These alerts are extremely valuable as they enable quick detection and thwart attacks, limiting risks quicker than ever before.”

Mr Doyle said measures to protect Blackpool Council included staff training and use of the latest digital technology.

He said: “We are making sure we train our employees and give them cyber skills and make sure they are not caught out by fraudulent attempts to trick people through the email system.

Contingency plans are in place and have been tested should there be a successful cyber attack.

Mr Doyle warned “no matter how good your defences are, nothing is 100 per cent secure”, but if the council did face a successful cyber attack it had a response in place.

Defence mechanisms include using artificial intelligence to detect and reduce spam emails, and being alert in particular to suspicious online approaches from sites in foreign countries.

The report also said the council’s IT team had introduced measures to enable more hybrid working among staff as part of its response to the pandemic.

This includes adapting offices to enable meetings to be held in hybrid mode so staff have a choice of working and attending meetings either from home or the office.