Hackney Council’s services likely to face disruption ‘for some time’ following ‘serious’ cyber attack
PUBLISHED: 11:27 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:38 22 October 2020
Sean Pollock Photographer
A week on from the “serious” cyber attack on Hackney Council, many services are still “significantly disrupted” and some could be out of action or in disarray “for some time”.
Council staff are still working to restore services, protect data and investigate the attack with the National Cyber Security Centre, the National Crime Agency and external experts. The council has still not revealed what kind of cyber attack took place, but has reported the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as it is possible there may have been a data breach.
The council is currently unable to make some payments including discretionary housing payments and housing benefit.
Some news agencies incorrectly reported that thousands of housing benefit claimants could be put at risk of homelessness as a result - but a spokesperson for the council told the Gazette that just 184 households received housing benefit payments three working days late – meaning less than 0.5 per cent of total claimants were affected.
Payments due to nearly 5,000 households have been processed as normal this week.
The disruption is widespread across other services however.
No new new applications can currently be made to join the housing waiting list, for housing benefit or for the council tax reduction scheme, although emergency homelessness support and advice is available.
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No licensing applications can be processed, and most planning services are unavailable, including planning applications and land searches.
It is also not possible to report noise complaints, or apply for visitor parking vouchers, and non-emergency repairs to council homes might take longer than usual.
There are also some issues making payments to the council, like rents, service charges, council tax and business rates, although direct debit payments are not affected.
The council has given reassurances that if anyone is unable to make a payment as a result they will not be penalised.
In a statement the council said: “We are learning more about the attack but are choosing not to share any more information at this stage in order to make sure we do not inadvertently assist the attackers.
“We want to share as much information with residents as possible, and as soon as we are able to safely do so we will.
“We understand that residents will be anxious about the risk to their data, and we are working closely with the ICO, police agencies and other experts.
“The attack is continuing to have a significant impact on council services and we ask residents to not contact us unless absolutely necessary.”
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