Giant Group, the umbrella company that has thousands of contractors on its books, has been targeted by a "sophisticated" cyber-attack that floored systems and left workers out in the cold, the biz has now confirmed.
The attack happened last Wednesday (September 22) and forced the outfit – known to many as Giant Pay – to shut down its whole network, including its phone and email systems, as well as its IT infrastructure.
It said last night it was still working on a "technical issue that is preventing us from getting the giant umbrella and giant accounts portals back up and running."
The incident blew up last week when contractors, many of whom work in IT, were unable to contact the company or carry out payroll-related tasks.
In a statement issued last night, Giant Group said:
Giant Group was the victim of a sophisticated cyber-attack on September 22nd. International law firm Crowell & Moring immediately put in place a team of experts in the US, UK and Brussels who have been carrying out necessary steps as part of the ongoing investigation.
Together, we continue to work with our insurers, the ICO and the NCA on the investigation, alongside a number of other specialist advisers.
Giant Group went on to imply that its reticence to share information was down to the nature of the attack, saying it had shared updates as soon as it was advised that it was "safe to do so."
At this stage it's not known who is behind the onslaught and the company has not responded to questions over whether the attackers used ransomware.
A spokesperson for Britain's National Crime Agency told The Register: "The NCA is aware of an incident affecting Giant Group Ltd and we are working with partners to better understand its impact."
The Reg also asked the UK data privacy watchdog and Crowell & Moring for comment.
According to reports from irate workers, there are still some discrepancies over pay, which the firm says it hopes – but cannot confirm as yet – to resolve by the end of the week.
The company also confirmed that it had made interim payments to more than 8,000 contractors who are paid for work they do with other companies and organisations via the payroll services provider. It is not clear if everyone who is due money has been paid, or if they have received their full amount.
- Another UK government limb that can't get IR35 right: Court service pays taxman £12.5m
- Contractors argue umbrella companies need improved regulation, not outright ban
- Tech contractor loses IR35 tribunal appeal: 'Right' to substitute didn't mean he could, say judges
- Subcontractors working on CityFibre's £45m Derby rollout threaten to 'rip up tarmac' in dispute over payments
Giant Pay added: "Although we had no portals to operate from, we managed to pay over 8,000 workers last week. We appreciate that not everyone would have received their expected payment and for that we are sincerely sorry. We are aiming to be able to process your payroll and pay you by Friday."
But despite the assurances, it seems contractors are still pulling out their hair over the lack of communication.
One wrote on Monday evening: "This is now really frustrating. Like everyone else, I was waiting to get paid on 24th September [when it had promised to process payments], but I did not receive any communication from them that this won't happen. It was later in the evening on Friday that I saw the message on their website.
"Now this is Monday evening 27th Sept, we still haven't received any form of communications from Giant Pay, neither have they updated us on what exactly is going on."
Acknowledging the problems faced by contractors Giant Group said it knows "everyone is frustrated about the lack of communication". Further updates will be published on its website. ®
Updated on 29 September to add:
The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) told us: "The FCSA is liaising with FCSA member firm Giant to ensure that the recent IT issues are fully resolved. We are assured that Giant are fully focused on ensuring that every contractor receives the money they are owed and that any disruption due to these IT issues are minimised for both the contractor and agencies involved. Giant is working around the clock to rectify the matter and will update all parties at every stage of the recovery process."