Hackney Council and Its Citizens Are Still Hostages to Cyberattack Situation

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated May 17, 2024

It’s been more than a month since the official website of the Hackney Council in the UK has updated its citizens of a cyberattack that disrupted many of its critical services to the society - and based on what The Guardian reports today, the situation is ongoing. In fact, the cyberattack took place seven months ago, while resolving all of the issues may still be equally far from the present. Hackney is a London borough with a population of 280,000, so this long-term trouble is infuriating for many of the affected people.

According to the service status update, the applications to join the housing waiting list have been frozen, and the same applies to the council tax reduction scheme. Accessing housing register records or updating them to reflect a change in circumstances is also impossible. In addition to all that, people cannot submit new benefit claims of any kind, cannot ask for an amendment of the payment schedules, cannot use direct debit or cash as a payment method, and cannot communicate with the council’s agents via email or letter.

Hackney citizens are also requested to avoid reporting all these issues to the authority, as the officials know of the problems and are working hard to gradually recover all services. However, this has been going for so long now that people find it practically challenging to keep up with their payments situation, take note of errors or amount discrepancies, and know exactly what refunds they should expect when the systems are finally back to normal operational status.

As for what caused the trouble in the first place, that was a ransomware attack from the ‘Pysa’ group. Encryption troubles resulted from this incident are what make recovering from the attack so difficult. However, seven months is a long time by any measure and indicates the absence of a data backup plan. Unfortunately, ‘Pysa’ also stole data from the Hackney Council’s computers and then leaked some of them online in response to the borough refusing to negotiate the payment of the ransom.

If you are having a transactional relationship with the Hackney Council, you are advised to use the direct debit guarantee to avoid having to go through tedious processes to correct erroneous payments. Moreover, you should remain vigilant against incoming communications as the ‘Pysa’ group may have stolen your sensitive data, too, even though this has been refuted by the council’s investigators.

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