COUNCILS throughout western Victoria are counting the cost of a security breach to their online networks.The councils have undertaken security reviews and may conduct upgrades following illegal access to their systems.Yesterday it remained unclear how much these procedures and the disruption to council services would cost ratepayers.Golden Plains Shire Council and Ararat Rural City Council have confirmed their networks were penetrated via a network support provider which stores data for councils in the region.The security scare comes after Ballarat City Council revealed its system had been broken into and was shut down almost completely earlier this week.Ballarat City Council chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said he did not know how much the council would need to spend on the security review and upgrade."One of the key points I want to make about this is that it is an unnecessary cost to the community and ratepayers," he said.Golden Plains mayor Jenny Blake said the council would have a clearer idea of how much the breach had cost later in the week."I wouldn't think it would be cheap," she said.The council will review its security system, although no sensitive data appears to have been accessed or removed.Golden Plains chief executive officer Rod Nicholls said the council's network was accessed by an "unauthorised remote connection" on August 22 in the evening.Mr Nicholls said the council's authentication system prevented the unauthorised user from viewing any files."There's been no information within our system that's been able to be viewed," he said."I'm relieved and very pleased our system held us in good stead."The council has hired a New Zealand based security consultant to ensure its network is protected.Ararat Rural City Council chief executive officer Stephen Chapple said the council's computer network was shut down on Monday after it was alerted to the breach.Mr Chapple said the vast majority of the network was operating after it was temporarily taken down.Pyrenees Shire Council mayor David Clark said the council's online security system would be reviewed although it was not one of those that had been accessed illegally.
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