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Ransomware raid

Cyber criminals publish stolen Sepa files online

About 4,000 files have been stolen

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said the criminals behind the ransomware cyber-attack on Christmas Eve had published some of the data online.

About 1.2 GB of data equivalent to a fraction of the contents of an average laptop hard drive has been accessed. However, it means that at least 4,000 files may have been stolen.  

“Supported by Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the National Cyber Security Centre, we continue to respond to what remains a significant and sophisticated cyber-attack and a serious crime against SEPA,” said SEPA Chief Executive, Terry A’Hearn. 

“We’ve been clear that we won’t use public finance to pay serious and organised criminals intent on disrupting public services and extorting public funds.”

The agency reiterated that whilst stolen data had now been illegally published and work was underway to analyse the data set, it does not yet know, and may never know the full detail of the 1.2 GB of information stolen. 

Some of the information stolen will have been publicly available, whilst some will not have been. 

It confirmed that staff had been contacted based on the information available, were being supported and that a dedicated data loss support website, Police Scotland guidance, enquiry form and support line was available for regulated business and supply chain partners.

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Mr A’Hearn added: “Sadly we’re not the first and won’t be the last national organisation targeted by likely international crime groups.  We’ve said that whilst for the time being we’ve lost access to most of our systems, including things as basic as our email system, what we haven’t lost is our 1,200 expert staff.  

“Through their knowledge, skills and experience we’ve adapted and since day one continued to provide priority regulatory, monitoring, flood forecasting and warning services. 

“Whilst some systems and services may be badly affected for some time, step-by-step we’re working to assess and consider how we recover.  We’ll issue a broader update on service delivery and recovery early next week, with weekly updates to be clear on what those we work with can expect and how we’ll prioritise progress.”

The agency stressed firm Police Scotland advice that organisations and individuals should not seek to search for the stolen information, as accessing the host site may place organisations, individuals and their computer infrastructure at risk.


Detective Inspector Michael McCullagh of Police Scotland’s Cybercrime Investigations Unit said: “This remains an ongoing investigation.

“Police Scotland are working closely with SEPA and our partners at Scottish Government and the wider UK law enforcement community to investigate and provide support in response to this incident.

Enquiries remain at an early stage and continue to progress including deployment of specialist cybercrime resources to support this response.

“It would be inappropriate to provide more specific detail of investigations at this time.”

Jude McCorry, Chief Executive of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, added: “There are many ways including ransomware a business can experience a cyber security incident, with varying levels of complexity and disruption.

“Cyber incidents can occur through deliberate targeting like we have seen with SEPA, or even human error, the end result is the same, a disruptive effect on business operations.

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