The administration of the English city of Gloucester has not been able to fully restore its services for six months after a large-scale cyberattack.
According to the local newspaper GloucestershireLive, on December 20, 2021, employees of the city administration discovered that their computer systems had been hacked by hackers. As a result, important services were unavailable to the residents of Gloucester for a long time. In particular, they had to postpone transactions for the purchase and sale of housing, obtaining construction permits and receiving pension payments.
It is reported that the malware got into the city administration network through a phishing email received by one of the employees. The letter was allegedly sent by hackers from Russia, but the department itself does not comment on this information, referring to the fact that the investigation is not over yet.
During the attack, most of the files of the city administration were encrypted, and IT specialists had to re-configure all servers. Until recently, the agency could not process requests for land needed by buyers to make a purchase. People who have tried to move in the past six months have complained of “complete uncertainty,” and some feared that mortgage offers would be canceled.
The city administration has allocated 630 thousand pounds for restoration work, but opposition representatives fear that the total damage may amount to millions. In their opinion, the city administration should have taken care of insurance in advance in case of cyber attacks.
Another question that worries the public is whether hackers have gained access to the personal data of residents of the city. The department does not exclude that the personal information of citizens could have been compromised.
According to the head of the city administration, Richard Cook, the work on restoring the systems is already nearing the end, but he finds it difficult to name the exact date.
“Shutting down systems for six months is too long. We know that this has caused a lot of problems […] I know our specialists are doing everything possible to restore everything as soon as possible. It all depends on how the testing goes. I can’t give an exact date, I’m not a psychic,” Cook said.