~Wants to know the severity immediately~
PHILIPSBURG – Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson on Tuesday, November 8, called on government to immediately inform the public about the severity of the reported virus attack that forced government to shut down servers at many of its departments.
“Nothing is happening in the country for a few days already. Civil servants are sitting doing nothing, going home early. No taxes are being collected and it feels like our entire system is being held hostage,” Richardson said.
Richardson said government’s vague releases only mentions the Civil Registry and Receiver’s Office, but he was informed that it involves more departments including Labor and Economic Affairs. Whether those are shut out of precaution or not, are many of the questions government must “immediately answer” he stated.
MP Richardson also questioned if the issue involved just a virus infection, is a hacker(s) intrusion at the center of the problem or both. “We are talking about departments that handle some of the most sensitive documents of the country. If the political party establishments in the US can be hacked, and we see the chaos that caused, it is not far-fetched to think that the same could happen here with larger consequences,” he continued.
“Not to cause any panic, but how severe of an issue do we have here? Has information been compromised? What about the ID and passport system at Civil Registry? Tax information etc. Most of us are not IT experts so government should provide information to let the public know what is going on. Why does it take a newspaper investigation to let us know that this wasn’t a ‘technical difficulty’ as two government releases said, but rather a much deeper problem,” he asked.
He also disclosed that he was confronted with an email from a legitimate advisor at the Ministry of Justice. The email required him to enter a code to read it. Before opening it, he called the advisor and asked if the email originated from their office. “I was told not to open it because it is a dangerous virus. It seems like we are under a heavy cyber-attack and not even Parliament is being informed about what is going on,” Richardson stated.
Additionally, Richardson wants to know what government is doing to remedy the situation, who is leading the effort, upgrade its IT infrastructure and how will government determine the extent of the damage the intrusion has caused. He also wants to know how many such attacks or intrusions government’s IT infrastructure has experienced over the last two years.
“The situation is very worrisome and vital government services is at a standstill because of it. We need to know what is being done to fix it now and to ensure as much as possible that it can be handled quickly in the future. More importantly, however, we need to know what is being done now.” Richardson concluded.