Lewisham council have been the target of a ‘ransomware’ attack by a blackmailing hacker.
The council say they paid no money to the hacker who had demanded payment in Bitcoin – but without specifying an actual amount.
Details of the incident made public on lewisham.gov news initially make no mention of the ransomware demand.
The announcement, made on August 8th, reads:
Advice to residents following the unauthorised access of an IT Portal
We are making residents aware that in April 2018 there was unauthorised access to an IT storage portal.
The portal, which was being used by our digital team for data analysis as part of a homelessness project, is outside of our IT network, which remains secure, and the core IT system is unaffected.
We are not aware of any inappropriate use of the data. However, as a precaution we are making residents of the borough aware.
We are directly contacting approximately 6,000 people whose financial details we believe could have been affected.
What data is affected
The type of data that may have been affected includes some personal data derived from the following council services: council tax;
housing benefit; housing; adult social care; education; and planning.
We are taking this matter very seriously and have reported it as a crime. We are working with our partners and the appropriate regulators and authorities, and have already implemented a tightening of our security controls. The investigation into the matter continues.
Ian Thomas, chief executive of Lewisham council, said: “Residents using our services are our highest priority. “We sincerely regret this matter and are fully committed to doing everything we can to support those who may be affected.”
If you are a resident, you can contact 0800 953 3045 if you have any questions or would like advice.
We don’t know who the hacker was and we have reported the matter as a crime. We became aware of the hack because we were subjected to a ransomware attack. A ransomware attack is when the data on an organisation’s computer is locked by encryption. The targeted organisation is asked to pay a ransom in a virtual currency, such as Bitcoin, in order to release the data.
We are working with our partners, the appropriate regulators and authorities. We are committed to doing everything we can to support the people whose data is potentially affected. While the investigation is under way, it is not possible for us to comment further.
Residents are then invited to
Lengthy information in this section includes the following:
We are not aware of any inappropriate use of the data. We are directly contacting some people about what they can do to mitigate any potential risk to their financial information. These are people who have used our housing benefit services, or been childminders.
If you have not received a letter by 13 August you can assume that your financial data is not affected…….
If your data has potentially been affected, you should follow advice from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC):
Be vigilant against any suspicious phone calls or targeted emails. If you suspect you have been a victim of online crime, report it using Action Fraud’s online fraud-reporting tool or call 0300 123 2040
A Lewisham council spokeswoman told News From Crystal Palace: “No ransom was paid.”