UK councils need more funding to better protect their computer systems from crippling cyber attacks like WannaCry, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
Councils are becoming increasingly digital, with a greater number of local public services available digitally and more of their staff working online.
As such, local authorities need to review and reinforce their current cyber security arrangements as a major priority, says the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales.
In its Budget submission, the LGA will urge chancellor Philip Hammond to support the bid to ensure local government has the skills, resources and necessary arrangements in place to work more effectively with local partner organisations. This will mean information relating to patients, residents and pupils can continue to be shared securely and efficiently.
Councils have robust cyber security measures to safeguard personal data from criminal hackers, including firewalls and scanning services.
However, the LGA says more funding is needed to ensure local authorities do not expose themselves inadvertently to any cyber threat in the face of more planned joined-up services leading to increased sharing of information and more frequent and sophisticated malware attacks.
Councillor Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: “Protecting personal data successfully from computer hackers looking to exploit private information for criminal purposes in an increasingly digitised world is a top priority for councils.
“However, as local authorities work even more with partners on national initiatives - such as the integration of health and social care, children’s services and welfare reform programmes - councils need to share more sensitive and personal information with organisations including hospitals, GPs, care homes, schools, academies, police and probationary services.”