CYBER-ATTACKS aren’t just the preserve of Hollywood blockbusters but an every-day reality (Cyber-attack “serious and devastating results” – Echo, Feb 18)

The breach that disabled Redcar and Cleveland council’s website for more than a week has left people unable to pay their council tax or access a range of information and services.

Research carried out by Bondgate IT last year revealed more than two thirds of us have been targeted by so-called phishing emails, attempting to persuade us to reveal sensitive information or open a malicious link or attachment.

However, cybercriminals are turning their attention on much more lucrative targets such as businesses and local councils. In extreme cases, a successful cyber-attack can cost millions of pounds and result in the paralysis of an entire IT system.

According to official data, councils across the UK suffered 263 million cyber-attacks during the first six months of 2019. The aim of such attacks varies from simple extortion and fraud to the mass harvesting of sensitive and potentially valuable data.

Local authorities must invest in effective security to protect their IT systems, otherwise it will be the council taxpayer who is left to pick up the bill.

Garry Brown, Managing Director, Bondgate IT, Darlington.