A COUNCIL leader insisted there was “nothing wrong” with the local authority's IT security during a debate over a catastrophic cyber attack.

Responding to questions about Redcar and Cleveland Council's cyber defences, leader Mary Lanigan said: “There was nothing wrong with our systems – this was a foreign attack that came into Redcar and Cleveland.

“It had a ransom attached which we did not pay.”

The Northern Echo:

Councillors say they are confident conditions attached to the payment of a £3.6m Government grant intended to help with the costs of the cyber attack which hit the local authority in February last year will be met.

The cash will be paid in full to the council early next month, but all or some of it could be clawed back if conditions aren’t met.

There were several conditions attached to the ring-fenced grant which resulted from a special ‘determination’ by Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.

These included a financial assurance review, commissioned by Mr Jenrick’s department to be completed by July 30.

The council must also provide by the end of September an independent assessment of the outcome of work undertaken to recover from the cyber attack.

The Northern Echo:

Councillor Glyn Nightingale, the council’s cabinet member for resources, said he was confident that all conditions would be fulfilled.

Cllr Nightingale said: “Some of the work has already gone into fulfilling these conditions in order to provide the Government with due diligence so it could assess whether we [got] any money or not.”

Cllr Nightingale said Cllr Lanigan and council officers had been “almost haranguing” the Government to get the money paid.

He said: “It is a unique settlement.

“Other councils have experienced similar incidents and not received a single penny.”

Cllr Lanigan said: “We tried to get as much money as we could [from the Government] and it has been a tremendous effort from Redcar and Cleveland to get that done.”

The cost to the council of the cyber attack, which scrambled files and rendered IT systems inoperative for a period, has been put at more than £10m.

Last week the Labour group on the local authority moved a motion asking the council to put on the record its “extreme satisfaction” over the amount of money the Government stumped up after lengthy negotiations.

But after a full council meeting overran, it ran out of time to be read and for a vote to be held on it by members.