After more than a week offline, Employ Florida is operational again following a cyberattack that downed the job search portal and dozens like it across the country.
Palm Harbor-based Geographic Solutions Inc., the software vendor that operates Employ Florida, was attacked more than two weeks ago. With the latest development, service in the Sunshine State will begin to restart.
The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) cut the link between Employ Florida and the state unemployment portal, CONNECT, after learning of the attack. Because of the disruption, the agency waived the job search requirement for Floridians seeking unemployment benefits.
DEO said the outage did not impact the delivery of unemployment benefits.
“While most system functionality appears to be in place, Geographic Solutions has advised that they expect all system functions to be fully restored by the end of the week,” according to an internal email sent Monday by Keantha Moore, the DEO manager who oversees the program. “We thank you in advance for remaining flexible in these final stages of full system restoration.”
Applicants can now use Employ Florida to complete their work search requirements. However, DEO will determine whether to turn the work search requirement back on as it evaluates whether the system is back to normal.
Florida entered into a $17.4 million contract — later dropped to $15.2 million — with Geographic Solutions in April 2020, shortly after CONNECT buckled under the weight of unemployment applicants caused by early COVID-19 lockdowns. The contract asks Geographic Solutions “to deliver an innovative solution to meet business objectives and state and federal reporting requirements of the Workforce Solution labor exchange system” and integrate Florida’s job-search tools into one site.
Geographic Solutions provides workforce development and unemployment services to agencies in more than 35 states and U.S. territories.
In addition to its role as an unemployment application site, Employ Florida helps Floridians find a job, connect with a local career center, and seek education and job training. Employers can also use the site to post job openings and follow job market trends and statistics.
In a statement in late June, days after the attack began, DEO spokeswoman Rose Hebert said no claimants had been impacted.
“DEO took quick action when we learned one of our vendors had been compromised by a cyberattack,” Rose said. “As part of our proactive response, DEO temporarily severed the connection between CONNECT and Employ Florida, the latter being a system this contractor runs. There is no indication state systems were breached.”