Ouch: Brit council still staggering weeks after ransomware bit its PCs

'Unable to process planning applications and land searches'

Copeland Borough Council statement

Copeland Borough Council was recently the victim of a vicious national, and possibly international cyberattack. This malicious and random professional attack has infiltrated our IT network causing major internal disruption. In order to prevent further spread of the attack, the Council has had to switch off its network whilst the extent and severity is understood, and further damage and risk prevented.

As a consequence, all of the Council’s systems are not currently operating, although some hosted on servers held offsite are enabling the payment of benefits in accordance with the Council’s Business Continuity Plan. And waste collections continue to operate although missed bin collections may be affected.

This attack has affected the majority of our services and we are aware some residents and businesses are experiencing the adverse effects of our current situation. For this, we offer our most sincere apologies. For example, currently we are unable to process planning applications and land searches and we acknowledge that this may cause a delay in those wishing to sell and purchase properties, as well as those wishing to submit applications.

Other services have been impacted including our customer service team, meaning that some customers are experiencing a delay in calls being answered. We are aware that access to our website is also currently intermittent and we are taking every possible measure to ensure this issue is resolved without delay.

We would like to assure our residents that we have assembled an expert team to support the recovery from this attack from a range of partner and specialist agencies, including cyber experts from the constabulary. This cyberattack is a criminal offence and both the police and national cyber security council are working with us and other affected parties.

The team at Copeland are working around the clock to support the recovery and to keep services functioning where it is possible to do so. We would like to thank our staff and residents for their patience and understanding during this incredibly difficult time.

We ask kindly that our residents direct any queries through our email system which is functional – unless their enquiry is urgent, in which case they can call our customer service team. Although our email system is fully functional, as it is part of a cloud-based system and not connected to our network, therefore council emails do not pose a risk to your systems.

However, we would also ask that residents and customers be cautious when opening emails appearing to have invoices attached from council officers. These are cyberattack generated and often include the subject line of ‘new invoice or invoice number’ followed by a series of numbers and symbols. These are not legitimate council emails – if in doubt, do not open it.

Finally, we want to assure you that we are doing everything in our power to resume full service availability in the near future, but disruption to services is likely to continue whilst we both restore our systems and address the work load that has accumulated during the system down time.

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