~ Government needs more time to analyze the information provided by NV GEBE. ~
PHILIPSBURG: --- Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in response to questions regarding NV GEBE since the March 17th, 2022, Black byte hacking said that she received a slew of information from the government-owned company, while the shareholders meeting was held on Friday last.
Jacobs said that she requested from the parliament of St. Maarten a postponement of the meeting called for today Wednesday since the Council of Ministers is still busy analyzing the information they received. Jacobs said that the parliament of St. Maarten did not honor the request to postpone.
The Prime Minister further explained that as a shareholder they posed several clarification questions to the Supervisory Board of Directors and the shareholder is still awaiting the responses.
The Prime Minister explained that the extraordinary meeting held on Friday was long as the government of St. Maarten has been doing what is necessary to hold the government-owned company responsible for what transpired and has affected the community and the company itself.
The Prime Minister was asked if the management and board of NV GEBE misled the government and people of St. Maarten when they said they recovered all hacked data.
SMN News understands that more than 70% of NV GEBE customers have not been receiving their bills and many have not been paying their electricity bills. Jacobs said that government did receive a number but asked that the company provide more specific numbers regarding the billing.
Jacobs was asked if the Chief Financial Officer candidate received a negative report from VDSM who conducted the screening, Jacobs said that the SBOD received the report and they are the ones that have to update the public on the report.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs reported to the parliament of St. Maarten at noon on Wednesday as requested. The Minister of VROMI Egbert Jurendy Doran was also supposed to attend said meeting but the minister she told parliament has called in sick. Notable is that the Temporary Manager of NV GEBE who already lied to the parliament of St. Maarten also did not attend the meeting since she reportedly has a doctor’s appointment while the chairman of the Supervisory Board Anastasio Baker is off the island.
Members of Parliament posed several questions to the Prime Minister, one being the exact situation with the billing data.
Member of Parliament Mellissa Gumbs asked why an IT Audit was conducted, the MP said she would like to receive accurate information this time around. She said that the same person sat as the head of the Audit department since 2013 and while there have been more than one cyber-attack and or breaches, she is yet to see a head roll.
Gumbs indicated that companies should beef up their IT security especially since the black byte ransomware hackers have gone one step further which is to even attack the 365 exchanges. The Member of Parliament said she wants to know what measures NV GEBE have taken to further protect its data. Gumbs asked if NV GEBE took out cyber security insurance in April 2022. She also asked which IT company has been monitoring the company’s server since the hack. She asked what cyber security has since been deployed and what types of training have taken place to further secure the company's IT and security.
She PFP leader also asked the Prime Minister what preparations NV GEBE has taken in the event of another hack.
Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel asked that the Prime Minister provide to the parliament of St. Maarten all contracts that were signed by NV GEBE, Emmanuel asked that the parliament of St. Maarten is provided with the contract of the temporary agency that was recruited.
He asked if any data was recovered since the hack by Aurora Info Tech, and if the company was paid if so, he asked how much money was paid to the company for the recovery of the hacked data, he also asked if Aurora recovered any of the hacked data. Emmanuel asked for the specific role of Aurora Info Tech after the cyber-attack. He asked if GEBE sought quotations from other IT companies or did they hand pick Aurora Info Tech and awarded them a contract.
The Member of Parliament also asked who owned Aurora Info Tech. Emmanuel asked what the cost or value of the hacked data was compared to the ransom.
Emmanuel asked what improvements Aurora Info Tech made to NV GEBE servers and why wasn’t there an audit of the IT department for the past decade. He asked if the internal audit department conducted an audit of the IT department following the March 17th cyber-attack. He asked if the internal auditing department conducted an audit on the present financial situation. He asked why the company did not follow the recommendations made by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on upgrading the SAP systems. He asked if the Chief Internal Auditor blocked the system upgrade with the help of the former Supervisory Board of Directors.
The Independent MP asked how much money NV GEBE owed to SOL.
Emmanuel asked if GEBE is paying two Acting Temporary Managers, while one is on sick leave. He further asked for details of the camera project undertaken by KPSM and GEBE, he asked who is paying for the project and what happens to the data received by the cameras.
Emmanuel asked how long government will have temporary managers at the company and asked that an update be provided on the screening process for the three candidates.