ONE Dorset council has managed to fend off more than 8,000 cyber attacks in recent years, a report has revealed.

The news comes in a report that showed there had been nearly 100million such attacks on councils in the past five years.

Big Brother Watch, which submitted Freedom of Information requests to all councils, revealed that hackers and other criminals are targeting councils at a rate of 37 times a minute.

The figure covers malicious attempts to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorised access to computer systems, networks or devices.

Over the five years there were 376 cyber security “incidents” – cases where there is an actual breach – affecting more than a quarter of councils, according to the study.

Purbeck District Council was targeted more 8,164 times by cyber attackers, it said in its response.

Although the report shows one cyber security incident in Purbeck, the council says this statistic was an error by its Freedom of Information officer, and that in fact there were none.

Poole council revealed that it had two attacks and two incidents, while North Dorset said it had four of each. New Forest had one of each.

Bournemouth and the East Dorset-Christchurch partnership said they had no attacks or incidents.

A statement from Purbeck District Council said: “There were 8,164 cyber attacks but all were unsuccessful because of the protection measures the council has in place.”

Big Brother Watch also asked how many staff councils had been trained in cyber security.

Purbeck, East Dorset, Christchurch, and New Forest all said that all their staff were trained.

Poole said 601 staff were trained, North Dorset said 150, and Bournemouth said 23.

Councils were also asked what percentage of their annual budget was spent on cyber security.

Bournemouth and Poole did not have a specific budget. Purbeck said five per cent, East Dorset and Christchurch said four per cent and New Forest one per cent. North Dorset’s service is now provided by West Dorset council, which did not state a budget.

Dorset County Council did not reply as required to the Freedom of Information request, Big Brother Watch said.

Jennifer Krueckeberg, lead researcher at Big Brother Watch, said: “With councils hit by over 19m cyber attacks every year, one would assume that they would be doing their utmost to protect citizens’ sensitive information.

“We are shocked to discover that the majority of councils’ data breaches go unreported and that staff often lack basic training in cyber security.”Local authorities need to take urgent action and make sure they fulfil their responsibilities to protect citizens.”

The scale of the cyber threat was underlined earlier this month when figures revealed Britain’s defences were repelling millions of attacks every month.

A recent report from the National Cyber Security Centre detailed how local councils are among the bodies most commonly featuring in fake emails designed to trick citizens into believing they come from a trusted source so they hand over passwords and personal data.

A Local Government Association spokesman said: “Very few of these attacks actually manage to breach the firewalls or scanning systems in place, and councils are working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre.”