St Helens Council has said that some of its IT systems and networks have been affected by a ransomware attack.
It has issued a statement saying: "We are currently dealing with a suspected ransomware incident on the councils IT systems and networks.
"The attack was first identified on Monday, August 21 and we immediately alerted our external cyber security contractor to investigate this issue further.
"We have now put in place a number of security measures to keep our IT networks running safely."
Continuation of services
It added: "We are continuing to provide council services via our website.
"Some internal systems to the council are currently being affected due to the actions we have put in place to prevent any further impact, and whilst a full investigation is undertaken.
“Please be reassured that together with our cyber security specialists we are working to resolve this incident, but obviously this is a very complex and evolving situation.”
The council also recommended that residents take action to keep themselves safe online.
Ransomware has been identified as one of the main cyber threats to the public sector, with the Government’s recently published National Risk Register highlighting its possible effects in the health and social care sector.
Update: 25 September pm
St Helens Council issued a fresh statement as follows:
"We are continuing to deal with a cyber incident affecting the council’s IT systems and networks.
"We have been working with national agencies such as the National Cyber Security Centre, National Crime Agency, Merseyside Police, LGA, Solace and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who have been supporting the work of our IT teams and cyber security contractors to investigate and protect our network.
"As part of this we have completed protective and preventative measures to protect services. This has impacted on how some of our services are being delivered, but we are working hard to adapt to the situation and work around these issues to limit the disruption experienced by our residents.
“The council’s website is available, however access to some services on it will be disrupted over the weekend. Thank you for your support and understanding while we adapt to the challenges this situation brings.
“While we work through this ongoing situation, we would recommend that residents are mindful of how to keep themselves safe online and be alert to any communications they may receive from the council. You can find out more about keeping safe online here.
“We’re still working to understand more on the impact of this attack, and when we have further information, we will share it with residents.
“Please be assured we are doing all we can to better understand the issues, protect our systems and continue to provide council services.”