Jump to content

The Untold Story of a Crippling Ransomware Attack


Recommended Posts

More than two years ago, criminals crippled the systems of London’s Hackney Council.



Two days later, the leaders of Hackney Council—which is one of London’s 32 local authorities and responsible for the lives of more than 250,000 people—revealed it had been hit by a cyberattack. Criminal hackers had deployed ransomware that severely crippled its systems, limiting the council’s ability to look after the people who depend on it. The Pysa ransomware gang later claimed responsibility for the attack and, weeks later, claimed to be publishing data it stole from the council.

Today, more than two years later, Hackney Council is still dealing with the colossal aftermath of the ransomware attack. For around a year, many council services weren’t available. Crucial council systems—including housing benefit payments and social care services—weren’t functioning properly. While its services are now back up and running, parts of the council are still not operating as they were prior to the attack.





Criminal hackers have frequently attacked local governments and public organizations in recent years. Hospitals and medical carerscity governments, and entire national governments have been attacked by ruthless ransomware gangs. Eleanor Fairford, the deputy director of incident management at the UK’s National Cybersecurity Center, which is part of the intelligence agency GCHQ and helped Hackney, says ransomware is the “most significant” threat to both public services and businesses. 

“Incidents can affect every aspect of an organization—from impeding its ability to deliver key operations to hitting finances—and effects are felt in the short- as well as longer-term,” Fairford says, pointing to its guidance on protection from ransomware. The cyberattack has cost Hackney at least £12 million ($14.8 million), with several of its services reporting budget overspend to fix issues.



Miller says the cyberattack has allowed Hackney to speed up the process of moving more of its services to the cloud, rather than hosting them directly on its own servers. He says the council is trying to remove risk from its systems, saying it got rid of 95 percent of Windows computers, which are more likely to suffer from malware. “We really had to build our data infrastructure from the ground up again,” Stidle, the Hackney data and insight manager, said in a July 2022 talk about rebuilding the council’s services. “We wanted to migrate everything into the cloud and use that crisis as an opportunity.”


I would guess that a great many public services have inadequate security in place and this sort of hack could happen almost anywhere. The devastation the hack caused is huge. Seems like they did not have a proper backup plan in operation. They did have at least the common sense to ditch Windows. Mind you if they had hired decent tech folk their Windows probably could have been made a lot more secure.Though I am not convinced that keeping everything in the cloud is a good idea either.

One way to help stop hackers might be to reintroduce the bounty scheme. Offer say a million bucks for each hacker brought in dead or alive just like in the good old days. 🤠

  • Like 1
  • +1 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...