It’s been revealed that the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Libraries Service had to be disconnected from the council’s mainframe computer system for two days in February because of what’s described as a “security incident” – a virus in its computer system.
It’s reported that the “malware“ [a piece of software designed to disrupt any computer system into which it’s ingested] – was “accidentally downloaded from an infected website”.
The identity of the ‘infected website” which had been accessed – presumably in contravention of council regulations – is not given, nor is it explained how such an illicit website could have been accessed by Vale Council computers. Such infections can also be picked up by opening unverified email attachments.
Whatever the source was, the downloaded malware created havoc by encrypting files containing council data and then locking them – making them inaccessible to council staff. The council says “the infection was contained within the Libraries [service] which had to be taken off the network for two days. ”
An increasing amount of computer malware is now “ransomware” – which attempts to extort a ransom from public authorities and companies by promising to send a de-encryption code on receipt of a payment. Often however, if payment is made, nothing happens and the files remain locked-out.
Already this year, Lincolnshire County Council’s computer systems had to be shut down for a week as the council held-out against paying a £1,000,000 ransom demanded by the scammers – who demanded payment in the virtual currency Bitcoin .
It’s yet not been confirmed that the Vale Council’s IT security breach was caused by ransomware , but informed PDN sources say that it’s highly likely . The main reason for distributing trojans and malware is to extort money.
One of the biggest current threats is “Locky” ransomware – said to be a version of an earlier version called Dridex which affects Microsoft Word documents .
Vale IT engineers had to abandon the files which had been locked and encrypted by the rogue virus and resort to re-loading all the original data from back-up copies – a process which took 48 hours.