Martinique faces weeks of disruption due to cyberattack

The cyberattack disrupted community activities, such as education and finances.

 Computer, Computer Hardware, Computer Keyboard, Electronics, Hardware, Text, Symbol

Martinique is grappling with a prolonged cyberattack that has resulted in significant disruptions to its internet connectivity and critical infrastructure.

On 24 May, officials issued a notice acknowledging the severe impact of the cyberattack, which disrupted community activities. The cyberattack commenced on 16 May, prompting the immediate isolation of the affected systems. The attack had affected education services, and efforts to restore internet access at colleges and high schools were underway. The statement also ensured measures were being taken to pay out social benefits in a timely manner.

Financial services are also being addressed, allowing the community to issue new purchase orders and facilitate bill payments. However, due to the unavailability of online platforms, these transactions must be conducted using traditional paper formats through the mail office. Similarly, aid and subsidy services are only accepting the submission of requests in paper format.

Several government offices were temporarily closed, with operations resuming on 1 June. However, the government’s website remains inaccessible as of the latest update.

While details about the current state of government offices are scarce, an official notice published by the government highlights the seriousness of the cyberattacks, resulting in the paralysis of computer systems throughout the island.

To mitigate future cyber threats, the National Agency for Information Systems Security (ANSSI) in France has provided recommendations for organisations on the island. These include educating employees about cybersecurity practices, and enhancing the utilisation of security tools like firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection programs.

Recent reports from attribute the cyberattack to the Rhysida ransomware group. The group, which emerged in late May 2023, has leaked a substantial amount of stolen files, including sensitive government data. The group operates by masquerading as a “cybersecurity team” that claims to raise awareness about potential security vulnerabilities.

This cyber incident is not an isolated event within French island territories. Guadeloupe, another French-controlled region located in the Caribbean and comprising six islands with a population of approximately 385,000, previously encountered a similar cyberattack that severely impacted the local government’s systems.