THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT has fessed up to being whacked by two ransomware attacks in the past year.
In its response to a Freedom of Information request, the government said that its "networks, systems and websites are constantly monitored and any identified attack is automatically assessed and prioritised based on its threat profile, and dealt with accordingly."
The response shows that no attacks made it through the government's cyber defences in 2014/5. However, there was one successful incident of malware in 2015/6, and two of ransomware in the past year.
According to the i paper, one of the ransomware infections targeted the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), which is responsible for judging which students are eligible to receive grants each year. Application processing was temporarily suspended following the incident.
The other attack involved the National Records of Scotland, according to the FoI response.
"In common with other large organisations, the Scottish Government faces a continual and evolving threat of cyber attacks, and we take our cyber security very seriously," a spokesman said.
The government noted that the actual number of attacks may be higher than it recorded, but added that it is ‘not always possible to identify or record unsuccessful incidents that could be defined as attacks, such as phising emails or those with potential malware that can be filtered before ever reaching the Scottish government.'
Although the exact amount spent on cyber defences could not be shared, the FoI request did show the government's cyber budget for the past three years. This stood at £600,000 for 2015/16 and has risen to almost £830,000 in 2017/18.
Finlay Carson, digital spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, told i: "In light of recent high profile attacks, it's essential ministers ensure government has the very best protections against this kind of threat, because it's likely these attacks will be attempted again in future." µ
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