A cyber-attack which interrupted computer systems and knocked out council telephone lines has been confirmed by outsourcing group Capita which said its Office 365 apps had been targeted. Information posted on the dark web included bank account details of suppliers for Capita’s nuclear consulting division.

The three day attack highlighted the vulnerability of critical public services to cyber incidents and the increasing use of outsourcing companies to deliver those services.

The documents, first reported by the Sunday Times, were posted by Russian-speaking ransomware gang Black Basta, which claimed to have stolen the information from Capita in the recent cyber-attack. Also posted were teacher vetting documents from two primary schools in Sheffield.

The Cabinet Office and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are both liaising with Capita on the attack.

Capita is one of the government’s biggest suppliers holding £6.5bn of public sector contracts with its largest customer the Department for Work and Pensions. It also provides primary care support services for the NHS, electronic tagging for the prisons and probation service, It holds a contract with HM Revenue and Customs to automate some of the tax collection authority’s processes and has a contract with the BBC to collect the licence fee.

Capita’s customers also include the London boroughs of Barnet, and Barking and Dagenham, and South Oxfordshire.  

According to internal sources, the incident also hit some providers of critical national infrastructure (CNI), forcing staff to resort to pen and paper in some cases.

In a statement, Capita said: “Our IT security monitoring capabilities swiftly alerted us to the incident, and we quickly invoked our established and practised technical crisis management protocols.”

Capita’s rival Interserve was fined £4.4m for failing to prevent a cyber-attack last year.

W Denis offers companies expert support and risk management solutions to protect supply chains and business operations. Cyber exposures are evolving and it is important that businesses review their insurances, for suitability, using a specialist broker. To discuss this further with a broker at W Denis, please make arrangements with Daniel Moss at daniel.moss@wdenis.co.uk or on 0044 (0)113 2439812 or contact Mark Dutton at mark.dutton@wdenis.co.uk or on 0044 (0) 7831 366 469.

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