Leicester still unclear on whether citizen personal data was breached in cyber incident

The city council, which discovered security issue two weeks ago, has reconnected most staff and is working to get services back online as criminal investigations into the matter are ongoing

After suffering a “cyber incident” two weeks ago, Leicester City Council is still unable to determine whether or not citizens’ personal data has been breached.

The authority first discovered that it had “been the subject of a cyber incident” on 7 March. The incident – which Leicester has refrained from describing as an ‘attack’ – caused the council to swiftly shut down its IT and phone systems.

Within a week, the authority claimed it had “got the all-clear to start bringing our systems back online in a safe and controlled manner, and have formally entered the recovery phase of our response to this incident”, according to strategic director of city development and neighbourhood services Richard Sword.

However, he warned local residents that, as of 13 March, “it could take at least two weeks before full functionality is restored across our network and all services are back online – and unfortunately there will be delays, as we work through the backlog created by the shutdown”.

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In the latest public update on the incident, published on 19 March, the council indicated that “it still could not say if there had been a data breach and that, as criminal investigations were ongoing, it was not able to comment on the nature of the incident”.

Sword added: “We are making good progress with the recovery of our systems and are now in the process of switching them back online, with housing, adult and children’s social care, and revenues and benefits being prioritised for this week. A good majority of staff are also back on the network. We still have work to do to get all of our phone lines fully up and running. We’d like to thank people for their patience as this carefully controlled process continues.”

The authority instructed citizens that advice on the incident – including an FAQ page – will continue to be updated and made available on the council’s website. Leicester also continues to operate a range of emergency phone lines in case online forms or services are impacted.

The council said that the Information Commissioner’s Office, National Cyber Security Centre and Leicestershire Police have all been informed and are “working closely” with the authority to investigate.

Sam Trendall

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