Over half of local authorities do not have a cyber security strategy in place

Over half of local authorities in the UK do not have a cyber security strategy in place to counter cyber threats.

One in every five local authorities in the UK have suffered a cyber attack in the last twelve months.

Information obtained by Digital Health Intelligence via Freedom of Information requests has revealed that among 281 local authorities in the UK, almost 60 percent do not have a cyber security strategy in place to ward off cyber threats.

A majority of local authorities do not have concrete plans on how to protect their IT systems from cyber attacks even though at least one in every five authorities have suffered a cyber attack in the past 12 months.

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'Our research highlights a significant absence of cyber strategies in many local authorities,' said Tara Athanasiou, director of intelligence at Digital Health.

'This will be a real concern for the citizens that use and trust public services with their data, more so after the high profile WannaCry ransomware attacks targeted at the NHS,' Athanasiou added.

Information obtained by intelligent information management company M-Files via a freedom of information request in July also revealed that a majority of boroughs in London and in the rest of the UK have not allocated budget for implementing GDPR provisions nor have they appointed Data Protection Officers which is mandated under the regulation.

The UK government has announced a new data protection law which will be similar to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation and will come into force in May next year.

Data obtained by M-Files also revealed that as many as 76 per cent of 32 London boroughs and 89 percent of 44 other local authorities have not allocated budget to comply with the GDPR and that more than half of all local authorities have not appointed Data Protection Officers which is also mandated by the regulation.

Considering that the new data protection law is less than ten months away from implementation, failure of local authorities across the UK to comply with its provisions could result in serious financial implications, said Julian Cook, Vice President of UK Business at M-Files.

'This isn’t just the responsibility of IT experts – it’s about making sure that local authorities have the funds and resources to prioritise this, and that decision-makers outside of the IT department are aware of what needs to be done,' he added.