Ealing Council Faces £1.1 Million Security Bill After Viral Attack

Work at Ealing council in West London was seriously crippled after one of its employees plugged a virus-infected memory stick into a computer which then infected to the whole IT infrastructure, it has been reported.

The incident happened back in May in the council’s social services department and Southall’s housing department. It is not known whether the memory stick was a council-owned or a personal one.

The virus spread quickly, compelling Tory run Council to disconnect its internet connection as well as phone links to safeguard its “core systems and data”.

This was followed by further shutdowns which occurred when the network of the council was infected twice in the following week, and all its terminals had to be either repaired or even replaced.

The situation left the cash-strapped council with a whopping £501,000 bill for emergency recovery services and in lost revenues due to the system shutdowns. However, a recent report claimed that the cost could go well over £1.1 million if new, more secure, systems are to be installed.

Julian Bell, leader of Ealing’s opposition Labour group, commented on the issue by saying, “This incident put the whole of the council completely out of action for almost a week. This report confirms my concerns, despite repeated past assurances to the contrary, that the council was not properly prepared, and in the current climate we cannot afford to lose this sort of money”.

Our Comments

This could be considered as a striking case of incompetence by local government in maintaining effective IT security. Didn't they have security guidelines to prevent something like that from happening? Furthermore, the total bill of £500,000 seems to be very steep and we still don't understand why some computers had to be replaced.

Related Links

Employee infects council IT system

(Press Association)

Ealing council lost £500,000 to computer virus

(Guardian)

Computer virus cripples council’s work for weeks

(This is London)

Cost to council of computers crippled by viral infection

(The H)