Details of a cyber-attack on a council’s IT system were discussed in secret after the press and public were excluded from a meeting.
Redcar and Cleveland Council remains mired in difficulties after a ransomware attack which has left its website down for almost a month .
The authority is still unable to say when online services will be back up or said officially whether taxpayers cash will be used to pay any ransom.
Staff have been left to use pen and paper after the attack crippled the computer systems
Press reports claim the damage could cost the cash-strapped authority between £11m and £18m to repair.
An update on the crisis was discussed behind closed doors at a resources committee meeting.
Cllr Sue Jeffrey, Labour councillor for South Bank and former council leader, sought answers at a meeting on Wednesday.
“I’ve got a range of questions chair, I’d like to be able to ask them,” she said.
“The first question is just wanting to understand what business processes are currently unavailable.
“So things like house searches, the planning portal, registration, building and control – all those sorts of things – access to historical files, regeneration projects, financial transactions.
“Could you give me a run down on what we currently don’t have available please to the public on those systems?”
Steve Newton, assistant director of governance, said: “Chair, I think at this point it would be appropriate to move to exclude the press and public.
“There is still a criminal investigation ongoing and I’m not quite sure where these questions will lead.”
He added that there was a potential that the information being discussed could be “sensitive”.
Committee chairman, Cllr Chris Massey, moved that the press and public be excluded on the grounds of confidentiality. The request was approved by the committee.
Last week, council leader, Cllr Mary Lanigan, said the cyber attack was being investigated by the National Crime Agency and reassured residents that there was no indication any private information had been compromised.
Redcar and Cleveland Council has since refused to comment further and declined to answer questions regarding how much cash had been demanded or whether any money had been paid.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands, however, that no ransom money has been paid to the hackers.
In a previous statement, Cllr Lanigan had indicated that the council is rebuilding its systems rather than surrendering to the hackers’ demands.
“We have built a new server and website, and mobilised a temporary call centre,” she said.
“However, it may be some time before our IT capabilities are fully restored which may mean frustration for the public in dealing with us administratively.”
The full council website remained offline on Thursday but displays a holding page with some limited functionality.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) is leading a criminal probe, while the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has been at Redcar’s Heart HQ since the attack.