The London borough of Hackney council has stated that it has been hit by a “serious cyber-attack”, damaging its IT systems.
The attack rendered many of the council’s online services “unavailable”, leaving the following message on their website as of the time of publication:
The council warned it was:
“Unable to make some payments, including discretionary housing payments, certain supplier payments, and housing benefit.”
The people directly affected by the inability to make these payments are being asked to contact the council directly, other than that, people are being told not to contact them unless “absolutely necessary”.
The exact type and nature of attack that has occurred has still not been specified yet, despite the initial attack occurring on the 13th October. Many services on the website continue to be down however, with the council saying “Key essential services, including our coronavirus response, continue to operate, but some of our services may be unavailable or disrupted for some time”.
With a complete lack of information regarding how this cyber attack took place in the first place, rumours are circulating the internet. Here’s what British security blogger Graham Cluley had to say on the matter:
“We just don’t know if it’s ransomware or not.
And if it is ransomware, is it one of the more unpleasant strains of ransomware attack where malicious hackers don’t just lock up your files and demand a ransom, but have also exfiltrated data from the network and are threatening to release it to the wider world if a sizeable ransom is not paid?”
Though the nature of the cyber-attack remains a mystery, many researches are convinced this is yet another ransomware attack. These have unfortunately become commonplace recently, with criminals looking to squeeze everything they can out of anyone and everyone. As we have covered in great depth recently in our blogs, these attacks are becoming more frequent and more damaging every single day.
In a climate such as this, with housing uncertainty commonplace, this cyber attack could put many people’s homes at risk in an instant. Greg Beales, director of campaigns at housing charity Shelter had this to say following the news that the council would be unable to pay discretionary housing payments and housing benefit:
“With so many people facing housing insecurity due to the economic shock of the pandemic, housing payments are more critical than ever.
Local residents must not be put at risk as a result of this attack. It’s vital that housing payments are prioritised as services are restored.”
The council has not commented on how long they expect the effects from this attack to last for.
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