Wiltshire Police denies reports it suffered cyber attack by ‘Russian hackers’

Wiltshire Police has denied reports it suffered a cyber attack in the aftermath of the nerve agent incident.

Questions surrounding a potential attack had been raised after staff at Wiltshire Council, with which the force shares an integrated IT service, found parts of the network had been shut down.

Council workers were unable to access emails on certain devices, leading to reports the measures were being taken due to an “attack from Russian hackers”.

Wiltshire Police said the outage was caused by maintenance work and there had been no intrusion into its IT network.

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“The Wiltshire Police IT system is a shared system with Wiltshire Council and we have been kept fully informed of the planned maintenance work,” a spokesman for the force said. 

“There has been no data breach to our force’s IT system.”

Cllr Ricky Rogers, leader of the opposition Labour group on Wilshire Council, told The Independent he was aware of problems on the local authority’s IT network this week.

“There have been problems receiving emails on certain iPads and mobile phones,” Cllr Rogers said.

“You have to use a computer to access them, I have had no problems doing that but I have not been able to read them on my iPad.

“It has not stopped the normal day-to-day running of the , but there are a lot of people who work from home and they have not been able to get service.”

Wiltshire Council said it had not been a victim of a cyber-attack, adding routine security work to switch off access to emails from certain devices had been brought forward as a “sensible precaution”.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of government intelligence agency GCHQ, said it had not been asked to provide support to the council in relation to a cyber attack.

“GCHQ or NCSC have not been asked to provide support to Wiltshire Council into any probe in their IT systems,” NCSC said in a statement.

Skripal attack aftermath – in pictures

Skripal attack aftermath – in pictures

    • Investigators in protective clothing remove a van from an address in Winterslow near Salisbury in Wiltshire, as police and members of the armed forces continue to investigate the suspected nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripa


    • A police officer on duty near the protective tent which covers the bench where a man and woman were apparently poisoned with what was later identified as a nerve agent, in Salisbury


    • Military in protective clothing prior to removing vehicles from a car park in Salisbury


    • Personnel in protective coveralls and breathing equipment cover an ambulance with a tarpaulin at the Salisbury District Hospital


    • Home Secretary Amber Rudd visits the scene of the nerve agent attack in Salibsury


    • Members of the emergency services in hazard suits fix the tent over the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found


    • Officials in protective suits check their equipment before repositioning a forensics tent


    • A poice officer stands guard outside a branch of the Italian chain restaurant Zizzi


    • Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who assisted the Russian ex-spy targeted with a nerve agent, was also hospitalised


    • Sergei Skripal days before he was exposed to a mystery substance that has left him fighting for life

      ITV News

    • Police officers outside Sergei Skripal’s home


    • Sergei Skripal speaks to his lawyer from behind bars seen on a screen of a monitor outside a courtroom in Moscow.


    • Yulia Skripal, who is thought to have been poisoned along with her father, Sergei Skripal


    “As the UK’s technical authority on cyber security, a key part of the NCSC’s mission is ensuring that public and private sector organisations are protected against cyber threats. 

    “To that end, we routinely provide public bodies around the UK with general advice and guidance about how to protect their IT systems.”

    Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, remain in a critical condition in hospital after they were poisoned in Salisbury two weeks ago by the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

    Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the UK has evidence the Russian government has been exploring chemical-based assassinations and stockpiling deadly nerve agents for the past decade.

    Russia denies any involvement in the attempt on the Skripals’ lives.

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