Latest Public Sector News

02.02.17

Aberdeen City Council launches ‘urgent’ investigation after website hack

Aberdeen City Council is currently investigating an incident in which its website was hacked last weekend.

On Saturday night (28 January) a group called Team System Dz took control of the homepage of the council’s website for around three hours.

However, the council quickly regained control of the website and said that it had launched an “urgent” investigation into how the attack had occurred.

“We are aware of a security issue which affected the homepage of our website this evening (28 January) between 19.20 and 22.00 and are working urgently to investigate the incident,” an Aberdeen City Council statement read.

“The website is currently back online and we would like to assure residents that no personal data is held on the Aberdeen City Council website.”

During the attack the homepage of the council’s website was replaced with the words ‘Hacked by Team System Dz’, along with other branding by the group.

The hackers, believed to be based in Algeria, told the Aberdeen Evening Express that they had targeted the council as a result of Donald Trump’s executive order to restrict entry to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The US president signed the order on Friday (27 January) temporarily banning visitors from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, causing widespread disruption to travellers.

“Our message is that what is happening in Arab countries is mainly due to foreign governments,” a hacker with the group told the Evening Express. “A simple message to the governments is that what we can do can have dire consequences.”

The hacker added that the group has no disagreement with the people of Aberdeen but “disagrees” with the government.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said that the council had invested in its IT system to prevent such attacks but will now be re-evaluating the system.

Police Scotland confirmed that police are aware of the attack and they are now working with the council to determine the circumstances of the incident.

Last year it was announced that cyber security in the UK would receive a boost from a new agency, named as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). It aims to work with the public and private sectors to help safeguard people and infrastructure of the UK from cyber-attacks from states, terrorist groups, hacking groups and organised crime.

Socitm said that local government must play an active role in tackling the rise of cyber-attacks, including being involved in the new NCSC and in developing the National Cyber Security Strategy.

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