The CPAS incident serves as a prime illustration of why social security and digital should coexist.
Due to a cyberattack, the Public Center for Social Action (CPAS) in Charleroi, Belgium, temporarily suspended several units. On Tuesday, representatives stated as much, adding that "emergency services" were not closed as an exception.
Didier Neyrink, a CPAS specialist, emphasized that while the cyber attack did not cause the failure of all affected systems, the majority of them chose to shut down for security reasons. "We are now assessing the extent of the damage," he said.
Although the nature of the attack has not been made public, local newspaper Sudinfo reported that it is related to cyber extortion and that the attackers have already made their demands.
In Belgium, CPAS operates in 581 municipalities, providing a wide range of social services ranging from financial assistance and housing to medical and legal advice.
According to management, nursing homes and social service centers are open for business as usual. "We are adapting our workflows to complete all assigned tasks," Neirink added, assuming that the remaining services will resume on Monday. For the time being, staff will take notes and report using pens and paper.
Cyber attacks on government organizations in Belgium are not uncommon, and the scale of the incidents is comparable to that of other European countries. For example, a hospital in Brussels recently suffered a cyberattack, forcing ambulance crews to be diverted to other facilities.
So far, there is no precise information about the attackers' objectives or who might be behind it.