Authorities in the West Midlands are “bolstering their online defences” as the UK braces for cyber attacks from Russia.

Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police are following guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – part of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The guidance states organisations should follow the advice for when the cyber threat is heightened in light of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The NSCS said: “While the NCSC is not aware of any current specific threats to UK organisations in relation to events in and around Ukraine, there has been an historical pattern of cyber attacks on Ukraine with international consequences.”

It was reported earlier this year a cyber attack which affected Gloucester Council’s online revenue and benefits, planning and customer services was linked to Russian hackers.

A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “We are following the advice from the NCSC, there is nothing more we can say.”

The guidelines from the NSCS recommend:

* Ensuring desktops, laptops and mobile devices as well as firmware are all patched – meaning updated to remove flaws in operating systems and programs

* Asking staff to ensure that their passwords are unique to work systems and are not shared across other, non-business systems

* Removing any old or unused accounts

* Ensuring antivirus software is installed

* Confirming backups are running correctly and that there is an offline version

* Checking an incident response plan is up to date – including who has authority to make decisions out of hours

* Ensuring that staff know how to report phishing emails

* Removing any access that is no longer required by third party organisations and ensuring the security practices of third parties are understood

* Registering for the early warning service from the NCSC so it can quickly inform the authorities of any malicious activity reported