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Council staff have been warned to check emails are legitimate

Criminals exploiting the coronavirus outbreak have compromised council computer systems, a council has warned.

Middlesbrough Council said local authorities were being targeted with fake emails.

In a communication to workers it said Rotherham Council’s IT system had been compromised by an email with “COVID-19” in the subject field.

The council’s head of IT cautioned staff to report emails from the authority “immediately”.

Andy Evans said that “criminal organisations are taking the opportunity to exploit the outbreak of the coronavirus”.

“If you receive any emails from Rotherham Council with subjects such as ‘Payroll Adjustment’ and ‘COVID-19’ can you inform ICT immediately,” he said.

“Do not attempt to open it or click on any links contained within.”

Rotherham Council was unavailable for comment, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Mr Evans said staff should check the sender and whether the email address looked legitimate.

Logos and grammar were often telltale signs of fake emails, he said.

Staff have been told not to click on any files, attachments or links that do not look familiar.

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