THE threat of a cyber attack has been identified as a main issue by West Dunbartonshire Council after it revealed being hit with “thousands” of network attacks every day.

At the meeting of the corporate services committee last Wednesday, council officers confirmed they now had to prepare for the threat and impact of a breach on the local authority’s systems. 

The current likelihood of an attack has been assessed as “very likely”, while the impact would be considered “significant”.

Victoria Rogers, the strategic lead of People and Technology at the council, said: “We have attacks on our networks every day, hundreds of times a day – even thousands. 

“Our systems are already facing these attacks. Our critical systems are segregated so they can’t be accessed by members of the public.”

Patricia Kerr, the local authority’s ICT service manager, added: “We get attacks every day. The likelihood of it happening is quite high.”

Councillor Martin Rooney expressed his concerns that the local authority was not adequately prepared to respond to an attack. 

He said: “The cyber bit, I’m not convinced what we’ve got there isn’t a stab in the dark. It’s an open door. We’ve seen bigger organisations than us get attacked, ransomware and all the rest of it. I’m not totally convinced that we have all the answers. 

“We could be a year, two years, three years or ten years down the line and this actually hits us.” 

However, Ms Rogers assured council systems are protected through “various mechanisms” and said there were “a lot of protections in place”.

She said: “We have lots of interventions already in place. In terms of whether or not there is more to do, we are on a journey.”

Officers also indicated the library network system remains separate from the corporate network as a safeguard measure and said they will continue to ramp up the local authority’s security. 

Meanwhile, educating West Dunbartonshire Council employees on preventative measures will remain a priority for officers.

Ms Rogers added: “There’s been a lot [done] actually in that respect over the last few years. We have further developed our action plan.”