President Nikos Christodoulides said on Wednesday that the blame for the server disruption belongs to his government, and that he would not blame others for the failure to move the servers that were downed by a leak a day ago.

Speaking at the Athalassa military base, Christodoulides said that he would be informed about the situation by the deputy ministry of research, innovation, and digital policy about the progress of getting the servers moved from there to the Cyprus telecommunications authority, as the previous government had decided.

“Neither we as a government nor the previous administrations nor the next ones are here to look for who is responsible. We are the present government; the responsibility is ours. I’m not going to hide. We may be a month in, but the responsibility is ours. And our responsibility towards the Cypriot people either concerns the specific issue or concerns anything that is ours. I’m not even going to hide behind decisions, that others are to blame, etc. The important thing is that, as a government, we do not go so far as to demand responsibility. This is our obligation towards the Cypriot people,” he said.

Responding to journalists’ questions on the matter, the president said: “What I have been informed about is that the servers were placed at this particular point in 2001 by the IT services and they were placed there because in 2003 the IT department was part of the finance ministry. It [the IT department] was transferred to the deputy ministry of research after its establishment, but in November 2022 a recommendation of the cabinet for a memorandum of cooperation with Cyta that would also concern these data centres in general was passed.

He said that he also he would be informed by the deputy minister Philippos Hadjizacharias later in the day.

Christodoulides also expects to be informed about the progress of relocating the servers.

Asked if the matter of transfer to Cyta is possible, the president said that so far, based on the information he has, it can be done.

“I know that Cyta has not developed its own data centre, but there is a way, at least at this stage to protect the servers, to have consultation and cooperation with Cyta,” he said.

Commenting on cyberattacks, the president also said that he gave instructions to upgrade all systems to deal with cyberattacks.

He noted that a related meeting had taken place that had not been made public on the subject in question.

“Instructions were given during the previous cabinet meeting to upgrade all systems,” he said.

He explained that in the first phase an upgrade will be made to protect the systems used by the civil service, and specifically those used by the critical services.

“The first phase is the need to make known the attempt by some to intervene in the security issues of the state,” the President said.

In the second phase, he added that the system will be upgraded through 13 specific actions that the cabinet has approved.

Earlier, the finance ministry said that the damage following the leak at the basement where government servers are located has been repaired and all systems are up and running.

In a press release, the ministry specified the government’s information systems, email and websites were back up, thanks to the efforts of the IT department.

Online services of the various government departments are now operational and the public can be served, it concluded.

Earlier in the morning, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said 80 per cent of the state’s services had been restored, following the leak on Monday afternoon in the basement of the ministry of finance that caused them to be taken offline.

Speaking on state broadcaster CyBC’s morning programme, Letymbiotis said government webpages were gradually going back up after and he hoped that remaining 20 per cent of services will be restored in a matter of hours.

A special ministerial council was scheduled on Wednesday to discuss how to ensure such incidents do not happen in future.

Among the topics discussed were the relocation of the servers, immediate back-up systems, and whether and what crisis management procedures had been in place to protect state digital services against such accidents, natural disasters and cyberattacks.

The finance ministry’s permanent secretary Giorgos Panteli told the state broadcaster on Monday that technicians had dried the servers and were in the process of examining the extent of the damage.

The deputy ministry said it had ordered an investigation into why the government server hub had not been earlier relocated from the finance ministry to the premises of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, per a November 2022 decision by the cabinet, under the previous administration.

“Unfortunately, the systems had been placed inside the building of the finance ministry, in a way that left them exposed to a possible accident,” Panteli said.

The probe will also look into why no additional protective measures were taken in the meantime at the hub’s current premises.

Letymbiotis assured the public that there was no data loss from the incident.