Hebridean council facing £500k bill after cyberattack

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar suffered a suspected ransomware assault six months ago and, in the months since then, has focused on improving its defences and cyber training, according to leadership

A local council in the outer Hebrides will have to pay an estimated £500,000 to restore its systems following a cyberattack last year. 

In November, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – which is based on the island of Lewis (pictured above) and is also known as Western Isles Council – suffered significant disruption to its IT systems after being hit by a suspected ransomware assault. The incident affected various services and led to bills, such as council tax, being delayed.

In December, the local authority called for specialists to help rebuild the affected IT systems, as some data remained “inaccessible”. The council has said there is no evidence that data on its servers has been published.

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Malcolm Burr, the council’s chief executive, said it could take another six months for things to get back to normal.

The Scottish Government, Police Scotland, and National Cyber Security Centre took part in the criminal investigation that followed the attack.

Burr said: “Since the cyberattack, the Comhairle has taken steps to improve the security of systems and safeguard data. Alongside improved security measures, the Comhairle views cybersecurity education as a key step that any organisation can take to improve cyber resilience. It was excellent that so many local organisations saw the value in this education and attended [the] sessions.”

A version of this story originally appeared on PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood

Sofia Villegas

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