Calderdale Council under cyber attack 1,000 times a day

Cyber security and digital development are increasingly important
Cyber security and digital development are increasingly important

Calderdale Council is fending off around 1,000 phishing attacks every day.

Cyber security and digital development are increasingly important, members of the council’s Strategy and Performance Scrutiny Board heard.

Interim Corporate Lead for Digital and ICT Jon Smith’s report set out how the council’s new digital strategy is progressing in a number of areas including cyber security, digital services and upcoming digital work.

The report shows how increasingly important developing and using digital technology now is, bringing greater accessibility to services for the borough’s citizens, allowing Calderdale to be more efficient and also carrying a responsibility for the council to ensure people’s details are secure.

Councillors were told how important cyber security as, with the council fending off 1,000 phishing attempts – efforts to access data held by Calderdale – every day.

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) told the board: “It underpins so much of our work and this report gives you a picture of the whole service. It is increasingly important and we really have to be very, very serious about protecting people’s data.”

Board chair Coun Paul Bellinger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) agreed the council’s cyber security team had to be ready for challenges – “the criminal element will always try to be one stage ahead,” he said.

Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Town) said the form of online engagement was important and employees responding to inquiries digitally would still have scope for individual responses as opposed to pre-written scripts. Officers agreed services should be responsive.

“That’s what I wanted to know, I didn’t want a situation where people were having their creativity and common sense by-passed,” she said.

She also asked if the council’s intranet was cost-effective and was told it was.

Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) asked questions about councillors’ liability risk if data was inadvertently shared and about passwords, and was told council staff are trained in its use and aware of their legal responsibilities.

Coun Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) asked if the 1,000 phishing attacks per day were analysed to help the council’s defences against them. Officers said the council always tried to.

Board members heard council staff receive cyber training with other public sector employees across the region and following work undertaken by Calderdale’s Cyber Security Champion, along with a colleague from the audit department, a number of issues regarding cyber security were being addressed.

Cyber has now been added to the council’s Civic Risk register, where it occupies first place with likelihood of cyber attack high, its impact would be significant and carrying a very high risk.

In terms of digital strategy work, a number of services can be accessed online, including, via the Capita Citizen portal, school admissions forms and home-to-school transport bus pass applications.

Childcare checks, early years free childcare funding, live chat for help and advice and customer accounts are just some of the other areas where introductions or improvements have been made.

Projects going forward will include a link-up with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust to provide real time patient information where and when it is needed, censors to monitor space availability in Halifax town centre to better manage parking for visitors and online taxi licensing where drivers will be able to apply online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.