The Spanish employment agency has been struck by a major ransomware attack, knocking out hundreds of offices around the country at a time when the pandemic had already put tremendous strain on the department.
A note on the website of SEPE explained that a “security incident” had affected the availability of its ITC systems and that work had been carried out to isolate and mitigate its impact.
“Currently, work is being done with the objective of restoring priority services as soon as possible, among which is the portal of the State Public Employment Service and then gradually other services to citizens, companies, benefit and employment offices,” it said.
SEPE confirmed that the attack would not affect access to unemployment benefits, but it has extended the deadline for applicants for as long as the service is down.
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.