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Conti Group hacking affects Costa Rican teachers

The attack carried out by cyber criminals on the Ministry of Finance’s IT platforms affects the salaries of at least 12,000 educators, representing 13% of the 88,000 employees of the Ministry of Public Education (MEP).

Integra II System is used by the Ministry of Public Education and the Ministry of Finance for the handling of payroll and salary payments of public educators. The hacking has hindered the incorporation of new teachers, lessons and additional payments into the system.

“At this moment there is no access to Integra II platform that contains the records of the 88,000 teachers and administrative staff”, explained the entity in a press release.

Payment problems have been reported since the hacking began. The second fortnight of April was paid to public employees based on the March payroll, but to pay the first fortnight of May, a manual payroll was generated in order to minimize inconsistencies.

“We understand the concerns of the people affected. That is why we have been working from day one to find solutions. The task is complex because the payroll is voluminous, but there is a will to address this situation,” said the head of Education, Anna Katharina Müller.

The solution does not seem to be close: The Ministry of Public Education has been informed, for the moment, the Ministry of Finance will be forced to use previous payrolls to pay the teachers’ salaries as of the second half of May.

This is likely to generate a series of problems, such as overpayments and underpayments, which were an issue for the Education Ministry before the hacking occurred.

“This extraordinary measure had to be adopted in order to mitigate the disabling of the Integra II platform as a consequence of the cyber-attack suffered by the country in mid-April. As an emergency measure, the Ministry of Finance provided the MEP with a tool to be filled out manually, since there is currently no access to Integra II,” she said.

The hacking does not only affect payments. It has been impossible to process 99% of the vacation requests of employees. In addition, changes in personnel such as teaching, janitorial, security, administrative and other positions have not been included for salary payments.

543 vacancies in educational centers are yet to be filled, due to the aforementioned situation.

Furthermore, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) cannot pay the subsidy to teachers and other incapacitated personnel. The Social Security Fund requests certifications from the Ministry of Public Education to issue these payments, however it is impossible to generate them at this time.

In the meantime, new employees are uninsured and unpaid, as they cannot be included in the CCSS and the National Insurance Institute (INS) payrolls.

The situation is critical, as many public institutions have been tremendously affected. Public employees and Costa Ricans in general are suffering the consequences of the attacks by cybercriminals and years without real investment in cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, it is not yet clear when the affected services will be restored.

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