Hackney hacked. Council hit by “serious cyber attack”, data breached

Ransomware? We simply don’t know right now

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Hackney hacked. Council hit by "serious cyber attack", data breached

Hackney Council says it has suffered a “serious cyber attack,” which has impacted many of its IT systems and services.

The Twitter account of the London borough council asked residents to “avoid contacting us unless absolutely necessary,” and pointed to a statement from Mayor Philip Glanville:

Hackney Council has been the target of a serious cyberattack, which is affecting many of our services and IT systems.

Council officers have been working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, external experts and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to investigate and understand the impact of the incident.

This investigation is at an early stage, and limited information is currently available. We will continue to provide updates as our investigation progresses.

Our focus is on continuing to deliver essential frontline services, especially to our most vulnerable residents, and protecting data, while restoring affected services as soon as possible.

In the meantime, some Council services may be unavailable or slower than normal, and our call centre is extremely busy. We ask that residents and businesses only contact us if absolutely necessary, and to bear with us while we seek to resolve these issues.

As Sky News reports, the ICO has been informed about a data breach at the council, and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is investigating.

Technical problems
The attack appears to have disrupted Hackney Council’s online payments portal.

Now, you don’t have to be much of a gambler to wager that there’s a good chance that Hackney Council is the latest in a long line of victims to be hit by ransomware.

But it’s important to note that presently the nature of the attack has not been confirmed, and although some of the details that have been released don’t run counter to the ransomware infection theory the outside world is currently pretty much blind as to what is actually going on.

Of course, if it is ransomware there will be concerns that Hackney Council may have fallen victim to one of the more sinister strains, where a hacking group not only encrypts an organisation’s data but also steals sensitive information – threatening to publish it online if a ransom is not paid.

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That would, of course, be worrying news for residents of the London borough of Hackney.

Lets hope that those fears are unwarranted, the incident is resolved soon, and more information is made public so that other potential victims can guard against something similar happening to them.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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