State says hackers now working on behalf of Ohioans receiving unemployment benefits

State says hackers now working on behalf of Ohioans receiving unemployment benefits

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Many who are unemployed are mad they’re being asked to return to work under current conditions, and the state says they are now taking extreme measures.

ODJFS Director Kim Hall said hackers are acting on behalf of those who do not want to return to their jobs as the economy opens back up.

“This is a national issue,” she said. “There have been a number of infrastructure issues that agencies have had to respond to.”

ODJFS says it's now distributed more than $2 billion dollars to unemployed Ohioans.

“[That] is historic,” Hall said. “I keep trying to come up with another word for unprecedented, because I hear that every day.”

Hall says the state can’t continue at that pace as businesses begin to open back up and jobs become available again.

But, some people are mad that officials are asking businesses to report employees who can-- but are choosing not to return to work.

The state sent out a form employers are supposed to fill out in order to do that.

That’s when hackers got involved. Hall says someone wrote a script that people could run to continuously submit false reports.

“Essentially [that would] crowd [the website] with spam and bring it down,” she said

Thankfully, she says IT workers caught it in time and it didn’t do any damage.

However the hackers publicly posted that they are trying to come up with a way to work-around the new security the state put in place.

“Any invasion of the script or any impact like that could have far reaching ramifications,” Hall said.

For example, if this specific hack was ever successful, people could end up drawing unemployment benefits longer.

That would put the state in deeper debt when the unemployment fund runs out at the end of the month.

Then, employer taxes will likely increase and in turn make your goods and services cost more.

“Which is why we continue to focus on security measures every day,” Hall said.

Copyright 2020 WOIO. All rights reserved.