Cyberattack Threatens Unemployment Benefits in Several States

Unemployment compensation remains vitally important to many Americans even as the COVID-19 pandemic fades into memory, as the nation’s supply chain remains compromised and many workers are still displaced. Now a recent cyberattack is threatening the timely distribution of the checks many citizens are counting on for groceries and other essential needs.

As many as 40 states and the District of Columbia could be impacted by an attack by hackers on Florida-based Geographic Solutions. Users encounter a warning page when attempting to access the company’s website.

The company issued a statement saying its computer network has experienced “anomalous activity” but did not identify or describe the cause of the service interruption. The statement said the company “immediately took some systems offline to halt the activity.”

The statement went on to say the company is using “third-party specialists” to assist it with a full investigation into the cause and scope of the “incident.” It added that the company is working to “prevent this from happening again” and that its current focus is on “working around the clock to restore all systems.”

The attack was first discovered when the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported that some of its claims websites were shut down. Officials there have confirmed that the claims of 11,000 workers have been affected in Louisiana alone. The state’s website used to file unemployment claims, conduct job searches, and manage accounts is not functional following the attack.

Officials have said that it is not believed that any personal or confidential information was exposed by the attack, although it will cause delays in unemployment benefits.

Tennessee officials said that the state will distribute benefits as soon as possible, but warned that “right now there is no timeline as to when that will happen.” The Department of Labor and Workforce said that when the system is returned to operation, claimants can enter certifications for missed weeks of benefits. Claimants should expect a lump sum payment for any that have been delayed.

The California Employment Development Department manages the CalJOBS website that manages unemployment claims. The department said that although the requirement that some data be uploaded has been temporarily waived due to the attack, claimants are still “required to search for work to be eligible” for benefits.

Other states confirming system issues because of the attack include Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska.

Outages due to the loss of functionality at Geographic Solutions began June 26 and have continued since.