By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
TOWN hall bosses are having to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on new staff laptops after a halt on software updates which means they could become vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Tameside Council currently has 2,254 laptops in operation, which use either Microsoft 7 or the Microsoft 10 operating system.
Bosses signed a new three-year licensing deal for the Windows 10 system in May last year but a ‘large number’ of devices are unable to run it as it requires more power and memory than the earlier version.
A report to the executive cabinet states the Windows 7 operating system is now almost 10 years old and will reach the ‘end of life’ next January.
“At this point it will no longer be supported by Microsoft which means no further security patches and updates will be produced,” it states.
“Systems still using this operating system will then become vulnerable to cyber-attack.”
There are 1,299 laptops that have not been upgraded so far and will need replacing as a ‘matter of urgency’ before the January deadline.
At the first meeting at the new Tameside One building in Ashton, cabinet members agreed to back the plan which will cost the authority £688,000.
The spend is being funded from the capital programme and is deemed ‘high priority’.
Tim Rainey, assistant director for digital services, told councillors the organisation was ‘increasingly reliant’ on ICT to deliver its services.
“Ensuring staff have got the right specification, can access the right software to do that job is an important part of what the IT service delivers,” he said.
“Now many of our devices are fairly old, almost four or five years old and they are not capable of running the new version of the Windows operating system.
“So we’ve got to replace those devices in order to make sure that staff have got the appropriate software for them to do the job, and before Microsoft withdraw support for that project, which happens on January 11 next year.”
“Once they withdraw support it means there is no more security updates that they will provide which means potentially our devices will become vulnerable to data breaches or cyber attacks.”