Databarracks, a digital security company, issued Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to all 32 London Boroughs asking what software councils are using to protect their data. The results were worrying, with over 60% of London’s Boroughs using software that is more than a decade old, with a select few still using Windows 2000. Software that is no longer updated is far easier to hack, and the lack of up to date security ‘patches’ is putting huge amounts of highly sensitive data at risk.
With council budgets continually squeezed, many are struggling to cope with the most basic services, with social care and housing both in crisis. Many councils simply cannot afford to restructure and update their IT infrastructure.
But it’s not just Councils that are vulnerable. The same situation can be seen in other public sector organisations.
According to FoI requests issued by security firm Citrix to NHS trusts across the country, 90% of those that responded admitted they are still using computers running Windows XP, an operating system which was first released in 2001. Similarly, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said that 19,000 of its computers are running Windows XP, although this figure is down from 27,000 in August. Not only is this out of date software insecure and inefficient, the MPS is paying Microsoft an additional £1.65 million for extended support.
When councils are struggling to house their residents, investment in their IT seems an easy cut to make. But, whilst this is just one of the many seemingly innocuous issues which are not being dealt with, it’s a worrying trend and, if the systems are not upgraded, it won’t just be Yahoo who’ll be the target of a hack – it’ll be these public services who we all rely on to keep our data secure.