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What free tools can local authorities and councils’ access to reduce the risk of cyber-attack?

Local government is frequently a target for cyber criminals. Cyber criminals seek to cause massive disruption to services via ransomware, and other attacks, as they believe it will be guaranteed to get a pay-out.

According to a Gallagher survey, during the first half of 2019 alone, the UK’s Local Authorities suffered 263 million attempted cyber-attacks, an average of 800 every hour.

But along with our top tips to keep organisations secure, there are a range of free tools developed by the National Cyber Security Centre and policing which the public sector can take advantage of.

Free Tools:

Early Warning – receive high level alerts, in daily and weekly summaries, based on your IP and domain names, containing:

  • Incident notifications suggesting an active compromise of your system. This might be a host on your network being infected with malware.

  • Network Abuse Events suggesting your assets have been associated with malicious or undesirable activity. This might be a client on your network found scanning the internet.

  • Vulnerability and Open Port Alerts suggesting vulnerable services running on your network, or undesired applications are exposed to the internet. This might be an exposed Elasticsearch service.

Exercise in a Box – online tools which helps organisations test and practice their response to a cyber-attack. There are a range of scenarios to encourage discussion about how your company would react, to allow you to understand if the right policies and procedures are in place. If you are not comfortable with running this exercise yourself, your local police protect officer can guide you through this for free and our affordable student service can conduct a policy review beforehand to ensure you have thought about the various procedures that you might need.

Mail Check – assesses email security compliance, helping implement anti-spoofing controls (SPF, DKIM and DMARC) and email confidentiality (TLS). You can read about how UK county councils are using mail check here.

Web Check – provides regular scan of your website and alerts organisations to common website security issues and advises on how to fix them. This can be used in conjunction with vulnerability testing by our affordable student services. You might ask what the difference between Web Check and a vulnerability test is. Our vulnerability assessment uses the OWASP methodology which is regularly reviewed for the top ten most common threats to web applications. Students use automated as well as manual tests to investigate the different processes such as looking at what file uploads were permitted, which automated scanning is unlikely to pick up.

Protective Domain Name Service (PDNS) – PDNS prevents access to domains known to be malicious, by simply not resolving them. Preventing access to malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, viruses, malicious sites, and spyware at source makes the network more secure.

Vulnerability Disclosure – guidance to help you set up a vulnerability disclosure service for your organisation.

Membership with the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre – sign up for our free membership and receive a monthly newsletter as well as our “Little Steps” emails giving easy to understand guidance about steps you need to implement to achieve Cyber Essentials. You can also access our affordable student services and our Forum where you can meet others in your situation.


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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