Computer servers

State back online as IT servers dry out

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Most of the state’s online services returned Wednesday after drying out following a water leak which flooded the basement of the Finance Ministry, knocking out e-governance servers and websites.

Talking to state radio CyBC on Wednesday, government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis said that 80% of servers are now back online, with webpages gradually returning.

He said technicians hope the remaining 20% will return online within the day.

Letymbiotis assured the public that there was no data breach from the incident.

The government spokesperson on Tuesday told CyBC that “criminal mistakes had led to the accident which took out state servers.

“State servers are installed in the basement of the Finance Ministry, despite a cabinet decision, back in November 2022, to have them relocated to the premises of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority”.

Finance Ministry permanent secretary George Panteli told CyBC, “Unfortunately, the systems had been placed inside the finance ministry building in a way that left them exposed to a possible accident,”.

The basement was adjacent to a water tank.

Probe

The Deputy Ministry of Innovation said it had ordered an investigation into why the government server hub had yet to be relocated under the previous administration.

The probe will also investigate why no additional protective measures were taken at the hub’s current premises.

Meanwhile, a special ministerial council is scheduled on Wednesday to discuss how to ensure such incidents do not happen in the future.

Moving state IT servers to CyTA premises was to be sponsored by the EU Recovery and Resilience Fund as part of a project to set up a state-of-the-art state digital hub.

The cabinet will also review backup systems and what crisis management procedures had been in place to protect state digital services against such accidents, natural disasters and cyberattacks.

The incident happened on Monday afternoon when a leak in the nearby water tank flooded the Finance Ministry’s basement.

State websites suffered a total blackout, while several public services could not do business due to the fallout.

Affected websites included the Ministry of Finance, including those of the Tax Department and the Department of Customs, Social Insurance online services, the Land Registry, the Civil Registry and Migration Department and the Department of the Registrar of Companies.

The IT hub is related to government websites and provides technological support for emails and other systems supporting state services.

Meanwhile, the General Auditor’s office announced that tenders with a closing date for submission of tenders before April 21, 2023, will be extended due to the inability to access the Electronic Procurement System (e-Procurement) online.

The Labour Ministry also informed the public that Social Insurance payments at the ministry’s district offices could only be carried out with cheques and cash.