Asco, the Zaventem-based company that makes aircraft parts, will now remain closed at least until 28 June, following a cyber-attack two weeks ago.
The company was hit by ransomware – malicious software planted on the recipient’s computer which then blocks the machine until a ransom is paid by the victim, usually online and in bitcoin to evade detection.
Initially, the company counted on being out of action for a matter of days. Later, after consulting with computer experts and the federal police’s Computer Crime Unit (CCU) the company said repairs would take until tomorrow (Sunday 23 June).
“With the help of external expertise, we installed several work streams to allow a safe and secure restoration of our systems in the different sites,” the company said in a statement earlier this month. “We are now gradually rolling out our business continuity strategy in order to restore operations. The forensics investigation is ongoing and to date this analysis has not identified evidence of the exfiltration of any information or the non-recoverable loss of it.”
It now appears clear the restoration is taking longer than foreseen. Staff, meanwhile, were put on technical unemployment, which allowed them to collect unemployment benefits while being out of work temporarily. Some have already gone back to work, said union representative Hannes Deumes.
“Activities have restarted in part,” he said. “I would estimate that there are now some 150 employees from Zaventem back at work.”
Unions are maintaining their demand for the company to pay out a dividend to those paid off to make up for the fact that benefits are lower than their salaries would normally be. Asco said it would deal with that issue once the problems arising from the attack had been solved.