After the cyber-attack at the beginning of March, the Spanish Public Employment Service (SEPE) is still suffering the consequences. As a result, approximately 80,000 to 90,000 people will be left without benefits in April. Specifically unemployed people who applied for benefits at the SEPE offices. During the four days in which the agency suffered a cyber-attack which left it totally inoperative.
The attack suffered by the SEPE about a month ago, prevented the operation of the institution’s computer services for a week. Specifically, it was a ransomware virus which encrypted files and blocked computers. This contingency led SEPE to receive manual requests from users and to paralyze the services. Despite the fact that the president of SEPE assured that payments would not be affected. The current story is different.
Things are not under control
From the Ministry of Labor they state that the cyber-attack did not cause delays. Likewise, the authorities assure that the payroll files were sent to the banks and that the payment windows are maintained as before. However, different unions report delays in payments, which may involve thousands of users. Although due to the fact that the internal computer systems are not yet fully operational, they do not have a concrete number of affected people.
SEPE’s systems are recovering. But a number of actions remain paralyzed. For example, the verification of documents and the transfer of data done manually.Likewise, the workload accumulated due to the pandemic exacerbates the delay.. Especially in large capitals such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, among others. This is why the agility in the solution will vary depending on the province.
The SEPE informs that the offices and the telephone centers are operative and carry out most of the formalities. But the unions report that the employees still do not have Internet connection and cannot telework. Before the cyber-attack and due to the pandemic, about 1,500 of the 7,200 SEPE workers were teleworking.
According to the Secretary of Employment, the SEPE staff “has worked more than 19,000 overtime hours to recover the usual rhythm of operation”. But this amount is far from the 225,000 hours lost in the attack. Even with this voluntary work, the response plan turns out to be poor. Because only 10% of the personnel responds to the call for recovery.