A total of 76 per cent of local councils in the UK have been the victim of a cyber attack – including malware, trojans and viruses – in the last 12 months, according to new research.

Malwayrebytes, which compiled the statistics from a report by iGov Survey, also said that 50 per cent of councils were victims of ransomware.

According to the company, the figures outlined a lack of understanding when it comes to cyber attacks and how local government offices can combat them. Malwarebytes said this has, in turn, resulted in a drop in confidence in many of the solutions currently used to fight cyber attacks.

Most councils reported that their existing legacy systems are inadequate to deal with modern threats. Some 72 per cent of respondents said it was either difficult or very difficult to successfully integrate new systems and applications.

According to Malwarebytes, this shows that for many local councils, outdated technology is having a negative impact on managing cybersecurity risks.

However, organisations were not just concerned about older systems. A total of one third of those surveyed said they were not confident in their current solution’s ability to identify and remove suspicious traffic. The same number also reported that their solution does not protect against zero-day threats, including ransomware.

Anthony O’Mara, vice president of the EMEA region at Malwarebytes, said that the threat of cybercrime is increasing, as it is “driven by career criminals” who are determined to target organisations holding people’s private information.

He said: “This determination was perfectly demonstrated by the recent WannaCry attack and the devastating effect it had on the NHS. Other high-profile incidents, such as the ransomware that crippled Lincolnshire City Council, provide further evidence of just how devastating this type of crime can be.”

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