District council brings councillors up to cyber speed

Tendring District Council – facing an increased cyber threat like other local authorities across the UK – is ensuring its 60 district councillors are fully up to ‘cyber speed’ by delivering new council-focused cyber awareness training.

As a rule, Tendring ensures its councillors have access to the same training as officers, but key to the decision to encourage member engagement with the cyber package Dojo, was the incoming GDPR regulation.

Data Protection & IT Services Manager, Judy Barker, explained: “The Council views GDPR training as essential. Not only because councillors have access to personal data in their role, but also so they can act in an informed way when supporting their constituents.”

As with the four officer briefing sessions Tendring is running, the Head of Cyber Security for Essex Police will introduce the training at an ‘all Member briefing’, to highlight the significance cyber threats now pose to local authority business, systems and processes.

Tendring’s councillors have a range of IT skills and will access the training on different devices from smartphones to laptops, tablets and/or in the training suite.

“Whilst the training is council focused, it also resonates with people more generally – both officers and Members – in terms of their personal use of the internet, cyber security and data sharing,” added Barker.

“One of the key problems is being able to get everyone together at a given time and location. The Dojo videos remove these barriers by enabling individuals to view the training at a time and venue of their choosing. Time is precious, but with all 12 modules taking only 36 minutes, this is no great demand on anyone’s time. And the beauty of the modular approach is that Members and officers can come back to them as required.”

Dojo was informed by work completed for the BBC, but significantly for Tendring DC – and the other 30 councils who have also deployed the training – they were co-designed and co-funded by 10 local authorities.

“Knowing that councils had input to the scripts is a real benefit. Cost wise – at a time where local authorities are having to make some very difficult decisions – the pricing structure available to us makes it an affordable, effective solution in terms of the numbers we need to train.”

Dojo covers a wide range of cyber topics including phishing, password management, social media, file sharing, offline security, scams and two specific modules on GDPR.

The Tendring Information Governance Policy Unit is chaired by the deputy leader, Councillor Carlo Guglielmi, and supports all cyber security measures to protect the Council. A network of key personnel within the council work together to promote activities and cascade training to ensure take up. Members will access the training via the secure intranet and can be supported with one-to-one sessions if required.

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