ETAPA intensifies efforts to prevent internet hacks but says it could happen again

Nov 9, 2018

Cuenca public utility ETAPA says it is committing more resources to protecting its internet service from hacking outages. ETAPA’s system, which serves 80 percent of the Cuenca market, was hacked for the fourth time in five months earlier this week.

ETAPA says service to most customer affected by this week’s have has been restored.

On Thursday, the company said that about 1,000 customers had lost service due to the hacks, down from the 3,000 it estimated were affected on Wednesday. In total, ETAPA says it serves 80,000 customers.

“We are strengthening our defenses against hackers,” says ETAPA telecom manager Alfredo Carrillo. “We are bringing in more experts to help in this effort but we can never promise that the system will not be hacked again.”

He added that service to most of the accounts affected by this week’s hacks have been restored, but did not provide a number.

Carrillo said the hackers could be anywhere in the world. “It is difficult to find the hackers who did this since the internet is international. Although we will do what we can to bring those responsible to justice, we are focusing on making it more difficult for the system to be hacked.”

On Wednesday and early Thursday, dozens of customers waited at ETAPA’s Gapal service center to have their internet modems reconfigured. Some of those in line said that it was the second or even third time that had come to the center with their modems.

Carrillo added that the national telecommunications regulation agency, Arcotel, is assisting ETAPA in reviewing protective and remedial strategies against hacking.

Earlier ETAPA hacks, from June through September, caused internet service outages to about 8,000 customers, the utility says.

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