Lincolnshire County Council has offered reassurances over a malware attack which hit its systems this week and has promised it will not be paying any money to those responsible.
The authority was infected by a ‘ransomware’ attack on Tuesday after a staff member opened an email with a document attached, unleashing the software which locked the authority out of data including social care.
However, the authority is confident it is working to fix the situation and will have the malware dealt with by Monday - social care data has already been unlocked.
Judith Hetherington-Smith, chief information and commissioning officer for the county council, said: “As soon as we spotted it systems were shut down to ensure personal data could not be compromised.”
The virus included a message asking the council to pay £1 million to unlock the data.
She added; “The council is not going to be doing that. We have no intention of paying a ransom.”
She reassured residents that ‘they [the culprits] haven’t had access to our data. Our data has remained secure at all times’.
Ms Hetherington-Smith described the email as one with a ‘document’ in it and confirmed a staff member had opened it.
She said: “It was a mistake that people do make, it’s unfortunate but people make mistakes occasionally.”
She told the newspaper that staff have compulsory training in IT and emails warning of dangers surrounding viruses were sent out regularly every three or four weeks - adding that this would be upped in response to the latest incident.
“The important thing is to remind staff that if they are in any doubt, don’t mess with email you’re not sure about. If in doubt, delete, is the most important thing.”
Ms Hetherington-Smith added that the cost of dealing with the attack had been covered by existing contracts with both the in-house IT team and a private firm the council already uses - meaning there would be no extra cost to the tax payer.
She concluded: “The big points are to reassure peopel we are absolutely looking after their data and that hasn’t been compromised.
“We would also like to thank them for their patience.”