A ransomware attack has affected IT systems of a Spanish government agency which manages unemployment benefits and disrupts “hundreds of thousands” appointments to the agency.
According to the Central Independent Trade Union and Civil Servants, the cyber attack on Spain’s state public employment (SEPE’s) affected offices around the country and forced employees to use paper and stylus to make appointments. The Union alleged that the SEPE did not upgrade the ageing IT systems of the agency.
In a country in which the coronavirus pandemic has affected the economy, SEPE places an integral role in distributing unemployment benefits. According to official data, there are now four million unemployed in Spain, the most highest rate in five years. In an interview with the Spanish broadcaster RNE SEPE Director Gerardo Gutiérrez, however, said the incident did not affect unemployment benefits and did not lead to robbery.
SEPE confirmed that this attack would not affect access to job damage, but that the deadline for applicants had been extended as long as service was running out.
Although the payroll system is said not to be affected, face-to-face appointments have had to be cancelled around the country, as the attack has knocked out workstations in 710 SEPE offices and the laptops of remote workers, according to trade union CSIF. It claimed the agency had been “paralyzed” by the attack.
The attackers had not demanded a ransom, and SEPE was helping people reschedule their appointments with the agency, Gutiérrez said.
Mr Gutiérrez pointed out that according to the technicians, the virus is “the latest version of the RYUK virus” and that the possible reasons behind this action would be to damage the reputation of the organisation, saying, “This is a cyberattack similar to the one that other companies or administrations have received globally”.