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Cyber safety plan revealed

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Cyber safety plan revealed

THE threat of cyber attacks has Dumfries and Galloway Council on alert.

The local authority has pulled together an action plan to protect its digital systems in the wake of other UK councils being targeted by Russian hackers and their systems being badly affected.

Gloucester Council’s security had been breached in December last year, resulting in benefit payments, planning applications and house sales all being delayed due to compromised IT systems. The council’s services still hadn’t returned to normal six months later.

Meanwhile, Redcar and Cleveland Council in the north-east of England was subject to a “catastrophic” cyber attack by cybercriminals in February 2020, with a single dodgy email taking down the entire computer system in a matter of minutes.

Dumfries and Galloway Council chiefs recently called for more stringent security to be taken to protect its systems and the information within them.

A report has been produced for the council’s audit, risk and scrutiny committee titled ‘review of council wide risks – information management’.

It reads: “Access to information is critical across all council services and for elected members.

“A loss of systems and associated data could potentially affect all council services, right down to individual services, depending on the circumstances.

“Management of this risk is therefore required at a corporate and service level.

“Loss of information could result in a complete loss or interruption to service delivery, affecting our ability to support the most vulnerable and the council failing to discharge statutory functions across a range of services.”

It is being proposed that the council takes several measures to increase digital security, including developing a data protection incident contingency plan, regular scrutiny of its information asset register, and providing guidance for staff and managers in areas such as the acceptable use policy and home working security assessment.

The matter will be discussed by councillors at audit, risk and scrutiny committee on Tuesday.

This summer, following increased concerns about hacking, the former head of the National Cyber Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, said that public services are facing “really serious problems that need national level policy attention”.

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