email warning for schools from the National Cyber Crime Unit
The email message below re: nuisance emails that could release viruses and malware onto your IT systems is from the National Cyber Crime Unit. They are part of the National Crime Agency (NCA) who periodically warn us of potential threats.
We would like to emphasise that this information is to raise your awareness of the Apophis squad threat and the risk of ransomware and DDOS attacks and is intended to prepare schools if the risk is realised.
If you have any queries please address them to the relevant people mentioned in the email below. Thank you.
This information is for your immediate attention.
Threats Posed To Schools By Malicious Cyber Actors Apophis Squad
You may be aware of recent bomb hoax emails being sent to a large number of schools in the UK. These emails are suspected to have been sent by an online group calling themselves Apophis Squad. It is suspected that this group is also linked to other cyber activity, including Ransomware and DDOS attacks.
Ransomware is malicious software which could be delivered to devices in a number of ways. One of the common ways is via emails and email attachments. This malicious software is designed to deny access to your systems / records and charge a fee to reinstate access, or sometimes the intent may simply be to gain unauthorised access to data you hold.
Denial-of-service attacks are a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network unavailable. The majority of the time this is simply to cause a nuisance, but on other occasions it may be used to disguise a network intrusion and compromise of data.
Due to educational establishments being the target of the bomb hoax campaign, we would like you to be extra vigilant when dealing with emails. Please DO NOT open emails if you are unsure about the source, and also DO NOT open attachments within emails, unless you are sure it comes from a trusted source.
Should the ransomware risk be realised the decryption keys may be available via open source, if you have issues obtaining said keys or other related questions please do not hesitate to contact us.
Further information concerning best practice for protection can be found at:
For more generic cyber advice visit
Action Required - Please review the information and take appropriate steps to safeguard your networks.
It would assist us to know if you have been, or suspect you have been, contacted by Apophis Squad in any form. Where possible, it would benefit our investigation to capture evidence from victims that have confirmed infections, including relevant logs and statements where necessary. We ask that in the first instance any contact or infections are reported to Action Fraud (www.actionfraud.police.uk) referencing this Alert.
Contacting the NCA –
Please ensure all correspondence with the NCA quotes the reference 0529-CYB
Contact Team: NCCU – Mitigation @ Scale
Contact email address: NCCU-Protect@nca.x.gsi.gov.uk
Alternative Provision Framework of Services for Children & Young People – Stakeholder Report
A project group was set up because it was established that the majority of alternative provision (other than learning centres) is currently sourced by individual workers which has led to inconsistencies in approach, variability of quality assurance and a lack of value for money.
In June 2016 a provider event was run and information was gathered from current and interested providers of services. We also gathered commissioning data and intelligence from various departments within Dorset County Council.
In May 2017, a request was sent to all schools in Dorset, in order to gather details around the purchasing/commissioning of additional educational services. Questionnaires were sent out to SENCOs/inclusion leaders and directly to Head Teachers.
There were various services commissioned by the schools including therapeutic support, alternative provision away from the school site, additional TA time or cover time from an agency, additional teacher time or cover time from an agency, additional Ed Psych or SEN support time.
70 % indicated that the school might be interested in being part of a bulk purchase and 10% responded that they possibly/would want to know more/only if the cost is significantly reduced/totally dependent on cost.
In response to the information gathered, we set up the Alternative Provision Framework Group and are in the process of developing a framework to provide a list of quality assured providers who can deliver a variety of diverse services.
The framework list will include a variety of alternative provision programmes/activities/services supporting children and young people which can be accessed by Dorset County Council, maintained schools, academies and specialist schools in Dorset.
This framework is being put in place for the following reasons:
to safeguard children and young people through clear quality assurance processes
to produce a list that includes a variety of services, in order to get the right service, at the right time, to gain the best outcomes for children and young people
to gain best value for money and potential savings
To get this framework in place, the project group have developed a competitive process for organisations who provide a range of alternative provision services for children and young people. This is likely to include:
• having a list of providers on a directory which buyers can call-off (purchase) at prices set for a period of time (possibly 4 years)
• having the facility for buyers (whether this be DCC departments or schools directly) to gain best value by carrying out block purchasing either individually or in conjunction.
The 4 categories of services that are outlined within the specification are:
Engagement & Reengagement
Therapeutic & Counselling
Educational Provision & Employability
A discussion about this project was held on 28th March 2018 which all schools, academies and further education colleges were invited to attend. There was positive feedback from those who attended the discussion and information, from this event, was distributed to all schools, academies and further education colleges.
Additionally, an information event for potential providers has taken place recently on 4th May 2018 which was attended by approximately 50 organisations.
A Directory of Alternative Provision Services is due to be available from 1st September 2018.
Sufficiency, Commissioning and School Organisation
Have you seen Schools News, our new e-newsletter?
Our first e-newsletter, Schools News, was sent out this week. It’s a termly update from Dorset County Council with news about hot topics for schools, including Local
Government Organisation, SEND and Family Partnership Zones. Make sure you don’t miss out on the next issue by subscribing here.