GEBE investigating cyberattack, says efforts focused on minimising impact

GEBE investigating cyberattack, says  efforts focused on minimising impact

~ Urges online banking customers to pay bills online ~

PHILIPSBURG--Utilities company GEBE said on Thursday that it is currently in an active investigation and an incident response phase related to the March 17 “BlackByte” ransomware cyberattack, which crippled its computer systems, and urges online banking customers to pay their bills online.

  Interim Manager Merrill Temmer said many organisations are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks that can inflict extensive damage which GEBE has experienced and he urges the business community to remain vigilant.

  “NV GEBE is currently in the midst of both an active investigation and an incident response phase. Therefore, NV GEBE is not in a position to provide any detailed information on the matter at this point in time,” the company said in a press statement on Thursday.

  “Please be advised that all efforts are focused on minimising the impact of this situation and bringing our computer systems back online. Our electrical and water distribution networks were not impacted and thus NV GEBE will continue to serve you, the community of St. Maarten,” the statement read.

  “Unfortunately, this is not a rapid process. NV GEBE appreciates your continuous understanding and patience while we diligently work to bring our systems back online.”

  The company said it recognises the concerns of the public regarding payment of bills with its offices being closed to the public. “While the offices remain closed, we encourage our customers who use the online banking system to make payment via online banking or via direct deposit. When doing so, please ensure that your contract account number is included in the transaction so payment can be applied to the correct account holder. Once our system is up and running again, we will verify your payment(s) and you will receive your receipt(s) via email as is customary,” the company said.

  This form of payment is only for customers who pay via their banking system, as the NV GEBE MyLogin is still inaccessible. 

Temporary work method

  As it relates to applications for the “Move in/Move out” services, GEBE said customers who want to close their accounts can go to their office with a copy of a bill, identification (ID) and letter requesting termination of account. Customers who are moving from one location to another can go to the GEBE office, fill in an application form and walk with an old bill. Customers requesting a new connection can go to the office and fill in an application form.

  Customers who would like to set up an instalment plan can visit GEBE’s customer service office in Philipsburg, with an ID and an old bill.

Payments

  Persons who were disconnected can make their payment online. “Please state your name on the bill or your contract account number. Bring/send us proof of payment via our WhatsApp number +1(721)588-3117 or go to our live chat and send us proof of payment. You will be reconnected,” GEBE said.

  If a customer would like to make payment for a bill, they can also go online and make their payment, or go into the bank and make payment (this only applies to customers who use online banking).

  Customers who have not received a bill and would like to make payment are advised to make a payment of their estimated monthly amount online.

  GEBE’s Help Desk and Customer Care can be reached at tel. +1(721)546-1100/546-1160 or via WhatsApp message or direct call on 588-3117 with regard to these services. NV GEBE encourages its customers to continue making payments as it moves back to normalcy.

  Temmer thanked employees for their “hard work and dedication” to the company. He thanked the customers for their patience and understanding and assured that GEBE is doing its best and working expeditiously to restore normalcy to the company.

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