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Ongoing plans for cyber security within Neath Port Talbot Council discussed

NEATH PORT TALBOT Council has discussed ongoing plans for the authority to maintain cyber security within its online systems in the future.

The report which was brought forward to members at a resources committee meeting on April 9,  gave updates on the authority’s Cyber Security Strategy, which was first implemented in July 2022.

The strategy was developed by the council to “support council’s approach to protecting its information systems, the data held within them, and the services they provided from unauthorised access, harm or misuse”.

Officers gave members an update about the actions taken during the second year of the plan, highlighting how they had now developed a “comprehensive” cyber playbook which would outline the steps the council would take in the event of a cyber incident.

The report added they had also updated the council’s current password policy, and were in the process of implementing intrusion detection and prevention systems to monitor the council network and identify any potential threats.

Speaking at the meeting, officers also noted the importance of the strategy going forward, with the National Cyber Security Centre said to be reporting a 64% increase in high-profile attacks across the UK over the last year.

They referenced an incident in January, when Canterbury, Dover and Thanet councils were investigated after a cyber incident caused major disruption to council tax payments and online forms.

While Cllr Sean Pursey said he was happy with the progress and direction the strategy was taking, he also asked if there were ways to build more “redundancy” into the systems that had become more complex over the years, in order to avoid issues for the organisation if services such as emails and phone lines were to go down.

Officers responded by saying they had spent a lot of time to set up the series of playbooks with action plans to deal with such incidents, and felt they were in a strong position where they were as “prepared as they could be”.