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Government IT employees sound the alarm after server damage, blame understaffing

servers sized
On April 11, government services were offline for much of the day, following a flooding incident

By Sarah Ktisti

Employees at the Department of Information Technology Services (DITS) on Friday laid the blame for damage to servers at the finance ministry due to a water leak and a cyberattack on the land registry squarely on the department.

In an announcement, they called on those responsible to take the necessary steps for staffing.

They said that the satisfactory staffing with permanent employees was a prerequisite for ensuring the credibility of the state and point out that otherwise, “there is a visible risk of causing huge and possibly irreparable damage from new cyberattacks with painful consequences”.

On April 11, government services were offline for much of the day, following a flooding incident overnight in the room they are hosted.

The government ordered an investigation after the outage, with the deputy ministry for research, innovation and digital policy apologising to the public for any inconvenience after all the websites of ministries and governmental departments went down.

Meanwhile on March 8, a technical problem saw the land registry department go offline due to a “cyberattack”.

The IT staff added that all relevant bodies for years have been repeatedly informed through letters, studies and presentations about the understaffing and the “teams” of one person responsible, as they say, for projects of millions of euros and systems of tens of thousands of users.

They also add that the entire DITS security team is responsible for thousands of users, as well as a variety of projects and systems, is staffed with two people, including the head of the team. “The department is called upon daily to support more than 18,000 public sector employees as well as hundreds of systems that serve citizens and businesses, without the necessary staff,” they noted.

“The recent cyberattack suffered by the department of lands and surveys is not expected to be the last, since with the increase in access to various services via the internet, the chances of cyberattacks on the systems and services of the public service are increasing, thus endangering the security of all government systems,” they noted.

Regarding the water leakage at the finance ministry, they claimed that the department proceeded in 2019 with the commissioning of a study for the creation of a state data centre and in early 2020, the findings of the study proposed a short-term action plan for the immediate relocation of state systems, as well as a long-term action plan lasting 18 months for the final resolution of the issue with privately owned facilities.

“The plans also provided for actions to improve the cybersecurity of systems. If the competent authorities had taken into account the recommendations of the press, the consequences of flooding would certainly have been avoided,” they said.

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