Illinois IDES testifies on unemployment fraud and cybersecurity at hearing Thursday

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) – When IDES was inundated with claims at the start of the pandemic, it was understaffed and had an outdated computer system. This left the agency vulnerable to both a massive cyber attack and angry jobless residents.

In a hearing Thursday, lawmakers asked IDES to update its progress

State and federal unemployment programs change over time. As has happened, so have attacks from malicious actors, who are finding ways to bypass state cyber defenses.

Fraud has come at a cost. Acting director Kristin Richards told lawmakers that in the spring there were 1.7 million fraudulent claims, but she didn’t have the dollar amount the state lost.

“I’m not ready to talk about it today, we are working to quantify those numbers,” commented Richards.

IDES recently opened its physical offices for pre-arranged appointments due to concerns for the safety of the public and staff. But this wait came at a price.

“There is no doubt that government agencies have pushed more transactions to the Internet, which allows for more fraud,” said Jon Coss of Pondera Solutions, IDES’s outsourced security company.

Richards said federal funds were used to help modernize IDES. Lawmakers have asked how they could help more. Ironically, she said the unemployment service needed help hiring agents and other workers.

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