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Great Yarmouth Borough Council targeted six times last year by cyber-attackers

PUBLISHED: 12:07 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:13 27 February 2019

View south along Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth towards the town hall.

Picture: James Bass

View south along Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth towards the town hall. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

Great Yarmouth Borough Council was the target of six cyberattacks last year.

Figures obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act show that all of the attacks were successfully blocked.

A cyberattack is an attempt to damage, disrupt or gain unauthorised access to an individual’s or organisation’s information system.

Public sector bodies and businesses are often targets of such attacks because of the wealth of data they hold.

Common types of attacks are malware, or malicious software, denial of service, or DOS, and phishing, usually a bogus e-mail.

Paul Maskall, former cyber security adviser to Norfolk Police. Picture: Julia HollandPaul Maskall, former cyber security adviser to Norfolk Police. Picture: Julia Holland

The council blocked one malware, two DOS and three phishing attacks.

A spokesperson said the attempted breaches were a “relatively low level, indicating the council is well-protected in the main”.

Paul Maskall, a Norfolk-based cybersecurity expert, agreed.

He said the number of attempted breaches was “quite low”, adding that hackers could attack a public sector organisation for a multitude of different reasons.

“Why does anybody vandalise anything?” he said.

“It can be as simple as kudos, financial gain, maybe reputational damage to an organisation. It’s completely indiscriminate.”

Mr Maskall also said that councils have been increasingly good at protecting themselves, but they are a target because they are sitting on a lot of data.

The council’s spokesperson said that phishing normally takes the form of a bogus email claiming to be from the council itself.

When such emails are reported to the council, it works with its IT service provider to identify the sender, but this is not usually possible.

The council has a shared service agreement with Norfolk County Council for its IT server infrastructure, connectivity and cybersecurity.

Its cybersecurity is dealt with by the county council.

The budget allocated to cybersecurity forms part of the £597,000 annual IT contract with the county council.

Figures reveal that in 2017 Great Yarmouth Borough Council blocked one attempted attack while the year before there were three attempted breaches.

Last month, officers at the county council said it faces thousands of potential attacks every day.

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