Ryuk Ransomware Hits Spain's Employment Agency


The Spanish State Employment Service (SEPE) has been targeted by a ransomware attack which has resulted in hundreds of offices being knocked offline. According to Central Independent Trade Union and Civil Servants, the ransomware attack on SEPE has affected the agency’s offices around the country, forcing employees to use pen and paper to take appointments.

SEPE is a Spanish government agency for labor that provides employment opportunities to the public. The ransomware is said to have spread beyond SEPE’s workstations and also targeted the agency’s remote working employees’ devices. 

The SEPE published a note on their website which said, “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 the citizens, companies, benefit and employment offices. The application deadlines for benefits are extended by as many days as the applications are out of service. In no case will this situation affect the rights of applicants for benefits.” 

According to Business Insider Spain, the cyberattack is the work of Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) group that’s been active since August 2018 and is known for running a private affiliate program. In this program, affiliates can submit applications and resumes to apply for membership. The threat group has targeted several organizations over the past year, such as Universal Health Services.

Gerardo GutiĆ©rrez, director of SEPE confirmed that the agency’s network systems were encrypted by the Ryuk ransomware operators after the incident. “Confidential data is safe. The payroll generation system is not affected and the payment of unemployment benefits and ERTE will be paid normally,” he further added. 

According to Central Sindical Independiente y de Funcionarios (CSIF), the attack has caused hundreds of thousands of appointments made through the agency throughout Spain to be delayed. The ransomware has also spread beyond SEPE’s workstations and has reached the agency’s remote working staff’s laptops.