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London borough admits some services could be significantly disrupted “for some time” as it reels from cyberattack

Some services provided by Hackney Council may be significantly disrupted for some time as the London borough responds to a cyberattack that has impacted its ‘legacy’ and non-cloud based systems, Mayor Philip Glanville has warned.

In a message to residents on Friday (23 October), Glanville said he was “incredibly angry that organised criminals have chosen to attack us in this way, and in the middle of dealing with a global pandemic. It is morally repugnant, and is making it harder for us to deliver the services you rely on.”

The Mayor said the council had reported the incident to the Information Commisioner’s Office and was working very closely with the Government, National Cyber Security Centre, National Crime Agency and other experts to investigate the attack.

Council officers are also “working extremely hard to get to the bottom of what has happened with the aim of restoring affected services as soon as we can”. 

Glanville added: “Unfortunately, I have to warn you, despite all this work and the dedication of council staff, that some services may be significantly disrupted for some time.”

The systems affected by the cyberattack include those that are needed for services including taking or making payments, logging repairs for tenants, or approving applications ─ from licensing to planning.

The council’s newer, cloud-based services are not affected.

Glanville said that Hackney had made sure that critical systems important to combating coronavirus – such as local contact tracing – were operating. It is also finding workarounds where it can.

The Mayor said: “Being clear and transparent is really important to the council and we’d like to say more about the nature of the attack and the impact it is having on our services, but we must also make sure that we do not inadvertently assist the attackers by doing so. My commitment to you is that once we are able to say more, we will.”

He added that where all payment systems are unavailable, nobody who is unable to make a payment to the council – whether a fixed-penalty notice, rent payment or otherwise – would be financially penalised because of the attack. 

Describing the incident as “a serious and complex criminal attack on public services”, Glanville said the council would do everything it could to ensure the attackers face justice.