Stornoway harbor, Western Isles, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scotland
The harbor of Stornoway in Scotland's Western Isles. Image: Andrew Bennett / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Council for Scottish islands faces IT outage after ‘incident’

The government council for Scotland’s Western Isles said it is dealing with an IT outage that forced it to provide temporary phone numbers for services.

The Comhairle nan Eilean Siar — which governs the more than 26,000 people living on a chain of islands on Scotland’s western coast — said access to the IT system “has been affected by an incident which has caused significant disruption.”

“The current priority is to restore and secure data and ensure the continued delivery of services to those in our communities who need them most. Work is underway to redirect public phone numbers which will allow key services to be contacted,” the council said.

“We will update the public regularly on the progression of this work and provide details of any further impacts to service delivery. The Comhairle is now engaging with Scottish Government and taking professional advice to establish the root cause of the incident and identify necessary actions. The Comhairle’s out of hours service is functioning as normal.”

The organization’s website was down as of Wednesday evening, local time.

The BBC reported that experts believe it is a ransomware attack, noting that Scotland’s government is working with Dell to provide Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with assistance. The computer and IT services company has an incident response unit.

No cybercrime gang has taken credit for the attack. A ransomware group previously attacked the Scottish Association for Mental Health, taking down the organization’s phone and email systems for days.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the population of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, which is just above 26,000, not 470,000.

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig

is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.