Cyber-attacks on UK council remote workers up 213%

Cyber-attacks on UK council remote workers more than tripled during the pandemic.

According to a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made by Insight, online attacks targeting council employees working from home jumped by an average of 213 per cent from March 2020 compared to the 12 months before.

On average councils switched 74 per cent of their employees – more than double the UK average, and representing more than 1.4 million workers – across the UK to remote working during the pandemic.

Just 20 per cent made additional investments in security, investing an average of £46,000 – in all cases taken from the wider IT budget.

Less than half of councils invested more of their security budget in increased security training for remote workers. At the same time, only 6 per cent prevented any employees from working remotely because it wasn’t possible to guarantee secure access to data.

Only 50 per cent of councils invested more in security posture assessments to understand any impacts from the move to remote working and identify any gaps in security.

“The fact that councils could move their employees to remote working without disrupting services needs to be recognised for the major achievement it was,” said Darren Hedley, managing director, UK & Ireland at Insight. “However, councils now need to build on this success: putting in place and strengthening defences to protect remote workers and eliminate gaps in security that could allow attackers to threaten essential services. It’s likely that many councils cannot do this alone.”

Hedley added: “They need support and resources from central Government, or else we will see more and more employees and councils falling victim to attackers.”

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