Yet another British local authority has been caught out by a computer security breach, with Ealing Council in London facing up to a £500,000 ($818,000) bill following the outbreak of a computer virus.

The virus, believed to have originated from an employee’s USB memory stick, brought computer and telephone systems to a stand-still back in May, costing the council around £500,000 in lost revenue, an investigation has found.

But as was the case when the Conficker virus affected Manchester City Council back in June this year, it was misbehaving motorists who benefitted most of all from the virus outbreak, with computers unable to process any payments or penalty charges. As a result, a total of 1,838 parking tickets had to be cancelled, costing an estimated £90,000 in lost revenue to the authority.

Other losses included the writing-off of library fines and fees, totalling £25,000 in lost revenue whilst £14,000 was spent in clearing a backlog of housing benefit claims. Council property rent also went uncollected during that time whilst IT security consultants also formed part of the total estimated cost.

It is claimed that the virus attempted to disable antivirus software and access to support sites, which automatically attempting to connect with other targeted websites.

A council spokesman is reported as saying: “Like many other organisations, Ealing Council’s computer and telephone network was attacked by a sophisticated virus.

“The council acted immediately to protect all data and ensure that essential frontline services could continue to operate.

“Costs to the council included urgent work to recover computer systems and prevent the virus from spreading.”

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