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The environmental regulator Sepa says criminals are demanding a ransom to unlock its digital systems which have been subjected to a cyber attack since Christmas Eve.
It said international groups were likely to be behind the ransomware attack that has locked its emails and contacts centre.
More than 1GB of data has been stolen, including information about staff.
Police Scotland and the National Cyber Security Centre are investigating.
- Sepa subject of 'significant cyber attack'
Cyber security specialists have identified the theft of about 1.2 GB of data with indications suggesting that at least 4,000 files may have been accessed and stolen.
The company's internal communications have also been locked but critical services, such as flood forecasting and warnings, have not been affected.
Sepa (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) said a number of systems, including email, would remain badly affected for some time and it was likely that new systems would have to be built from scratch.