“If you’re having a bad day at work spare a thought for Tiverton’s town clerk – who has mistakenly opened a virus and wiped every council document since 2015.
John Vanderwolfe, who says it’s the worst thing that’s happened in his 12 years in the role, admits the blunder “is a lesson to us all.”
The virus infected Town Hall this week when an email arrived in Tiverton Town Council’s inbox claiming to be from a parcel delivery firm.
It explained that parcel needed to be collected, and that the URL link supplied would lead to a page containing details on how to retrieve it.
It was around five minutes later that it became apparent that a virus, disguised in the email, had infected every single one of the council’s computers.
On recollection, Mr Vanderwolfe sad it was fairly apparent the email was suspicious.
Mr Vanderwolfe explains: “Sometimes when you are in a rush and busy, you can slip up.
“This virus was horrible and now all of the documents are encrypted. Instead of [Microsoft] Word for example, it comes up with gobbledygook.
“It then asks for £3,000 in exchange for the file to be unlocked. But even then there is no guarantee they would do it.
“We have had an IT expert in to have a look but he is unsure on how to fix it. Our anti-virus wasn’t good enough for this one.
“It is a warning to other people and it I think our security for this type of thing needs re-thinking.
He added: “My advice is: If in doubt, don’t open it.”
Many documents, including finance and planning documents have been unaffected as they are either on separate systems or uploaded to the town council website.
According to Mr Vanderwolfe, the majority of those lost are letters – many of those sent in by residents.
The documents are expected to take some months to re-scan and upload onto the system.”