PALM HARBOR, Fla. – A cyberattack has caused Employment Florida to go offline, causing confusion, questions and concerns among thousands of Floridians trying to apply for unemployment and access unemployment benefits.
Thursday morning, the I-Team received an email from a Floridian saying that his wife had been trying unsuccessfully to apply for unemployment all week. She couldn’t, he said, because the Employ Florida website is down. In order to register and receive unemployment benefits, it is necessary to go to the Jobs Florida website to search and apply for jobs.
It wasn’t until the I-Team contacted the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) that ABC Action News learned of a cyberattack on the vendor that runs the Employ Florida – Geographic Solutions site, based in Palm Harbor.
WD awarded the company a contract worth more than $15 million in 2020.
Although its website is currently down, the company’s Facebook page says it specializes in online software for the UI industries, working with government agencies in more than 30 states and territories. Americans.
Geographic Solutions Statement:
“We recently identified abnormal activity on our network and immediately took some systems offline to stop the activity. With the help of third-party specialists, we are conducting a full investigation to determine the cause and extent of the incident. This investigation is still ongoing, and we are taking steps to prevent it from happening again.Our current focus is to take care of our customers and work around the clock to restore all systems.
In Florida, we provide the Employ Florida system, which is the state’s labor market website (providing a platform for job search and talent acquisition). The system also manages federal employment and training programs within the state. However, we do not provide the State of Florida unemployment insurance system.”
The I-Team found nothing on WD’s website notifying Floridians of the cyberattack. Instead, there was a Tweeter two days ago, saying the agency, “…is aware of a statewide outage of the system operated by the provider, Employ Florida. This does not affect RA payments. @FLDEO remains committed to helping Floridians as the state provider works to restore their services.”
Statement from the DEO to the I-Team:
“DEO acted quickly when we learned that one of our vendors had been compromised by a cyberattack. As part of our proactive response, DEO temporarily cut the connection between CONNECT and Employ Florida, the latter being a system managed by this contractor. There is no indication state systems were breached. At this time, no claimants have been impacted and as the outage continues, WD will ensure that Floridians receive timely payments by waiving job search requirements for applicants during the provider outage.We will continue to provide updates on this issue.
While this is for Floridians who are already unemployed, the I-Team asked about people who are currently trying to apply for unemployment, since this registration process includes Employ Florida.
We are still awaiting an answer to this question and word on how much longer Employ Florida will be down.