SERIOUS concerns have been raised after Basildon Council’s email system was hacked by someone trying to use a council email address.

Basildon councillors raised the alarm after receiving a suspicious email asking them to review and comment on an attached document.

Councillors have now raised serious concerns about how easy it seems to be for people to hack Basildon Council’s email systems.

Peter Holliman, Tory councillor for Wickford North, received the suspicious email.

He said: “My concern is the apparent ease for someone to hack an account and spread something.

“I do not know how far it has gone.

“There are potentially financial implications with this and everyone in the council is on the same mailing list.

“It was obviously a sophisticated system.

“We don’t know what is being done to combat this breach or who caused it.

“This is the first time as far as I know.

“I received an email from what seemed to be a council officer, asking for me to open a document and review it.”

He said he found it very suspicious and replied asking what is was all about and he then got a quick reply once again requesting he opened it and looked at the attached documents.

Mr Holliman, said: “I knew it wasn’t a council officer by the way the reply was written and a council officer would have explained what it was about.

“I am not sure the council’s IT department are exactly sure what has happened here.

“The council has about 10 fire walls of protective systems so it’s a bit disconcerting that the hacker was about to get through all of this.”

He said the council has issued advice to councillors suggesting they change their passwords.

A Basildon Council spokesman said: “On Tuesday, August 20, Basildon Council was made aware of a spam email using a Basildon Council email address - it appears that someone had been trying to spread a virus using the council’s system.

“The council took swift action to prevent that happening.

“We have subsequently contacted all those who received the email advising them to delete it.

“There is no evidence that any system or information has been compromised.

“If you have received the email and still have concerns, contact us on 01268 533333.”