LGA calls for funding for councils’ cyber security

Spokesperson says there is an 'urgent need' as association bids for shares of money in Autumn Budget

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the Government to provide money to help protect local authorities from cyber attacks.

Cyber attack abstractIt has gone public with a bid for funds in the forthcoming Autumn Budget to build up the sector’s management capabilities to respond to attacks such as the Wannacry virus that hit some NHS trusts hard earlier in the year.

It said it wants to work with the Cabinet Office, National Cyber Security Centre and the Department for Communities and Local Government to provide support to councils and local partners.

The bid document does not place a figure on how much could be needed, but refers back to the provision of £1.9 billion to support cyber security in the public sector in the Autumn Statement of 2015. It says that councils have invested in a range of measures to protect systems and data, but that the WannaCry attack indicates that more needs to be done.

The LGA said in a public statement that, although there are joined up services to share information on malware attacks, extra money is needed to ensure local authorities do not expose themselves inadvertently to cyber threats. This could go into groups such as local resilience forums and warning advice and reporting points.

It also referred to the Local Government Security Survey Report by malware protection specialist Malwarebytes, which showed three-quarters of council departments have experienced a cyber attack in the past year.

Urgent need

Councillor Paul Bettison, chair of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: “Councils have invested in a range of measures to protect their systems and data, which are tested robustly for cyber resilience, but face an urgent need to prepare themselves to better deal with potential incidents of more frequent and powerful malware.

“The LGA agrees with the Government’s vision of the UK in 2021 as secure and resilient to cyber threats, prosperous and confident in the digital world, as set out in its National Cyber Security Strategy.

“Investing in cyber security must be seen as an economic opportunity and we urge government to allocate funding to councils to build capacity to respond to the growing threat of cyber attacks and ensure the safeguarding of personal data is as strong as possible.”

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