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Majority of local authorities aren't secured against cyber threats

And the attitudes of public sector employees when it comes to security stink, according to research

Cyber security Francis Maude

Just 41 per cent of local government employees think their systems would suitably secure their organisation against cyber threats, while 50 per cent have no idea whether their systems are prepared or not.

That's the worrying picture painted by a SophOS study, which surveyed just shy of 3,000 local government and police workers about their attitudes towards cyber threats and security.

The results revealed that although the possibility and variety of attacks have increased, budget cuts mean they are not particularly well protected against threats.

Although the biggest cuts have been to workforce numbers, with just over two-thirds (67 per cent) claiming job losses provided the biggest savings, frontline services came in slightly behind with 63 per cent saying their department had been affected by the reduction of such services.

Some 62 per cent of respondents said they were planning on making cuts to IT services or merging IT with other departments or local governments on IT resources to save money and this will have a knock-on impact on security.

However, almost half of the people questioned said they had increased awareness of data security after they had learned about high profile attacks happening to other governments and upcoming EU legislation.

Data loss is the public sector workers' main security concern, while remote access and targeted attacks were secondary worries.

"With cyber crime at an all-time high and public sector budgets reducing year-on-year, it's more important than ever that organisations maximise the resources available to them," James Vyvyan, regional vice president of Sophos UK and Ireland, said.

"There is a clear trend towards local authorities partnering with neighbouring authorities to increase and implement shared services. This collaborative approach is certainly helpful in the fight against cyber crime. Our research indicates that local authorities and police may also be missing the opportunity to consolidate their IT and security technologies, which can deliver further savings, helping to protect jobs and frontline services. "

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