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TELEFONICA

Cyber attack targets major Spanish firms: government

Telecom giant Telefonica and several other Spanish companies were targeted in cyber attacks Friday, the government said.

Cyber attack targets major Spanish firms: government
An IT researcher in Rennes, France shows on a giant screen a computer infected by ransomware. File photo: AFP

The energy ministry said it had “confirmation of various cyber attacks targeting Spanish companies”, adding the attackers used so-called ransomware which blocks access to files until a ransom is paid.

Some staff computers at the firms were affected, but service and network operations were not, the ministry said.

The firms' clients were also unaffected.

It added that there had been no breach of data security.

Spain's national cryptology centre, a division of the country's intelligence services, said the ransomware used in the attacks was of the WannaCry type which locks targeted files with a secret encryption algorithm.

It affected Windows operating systems and any linked networks, it said.

Telefonica reacted by switching off all computers at its Madrid headquarters, after hundreds of PCs came under attack, a source at the company told AFP.

Telefonica staff were told in megaphone announcements to urgently shut down their workstations, the source said.

Spanish energy company Iberdrola, a client of Telefonica, meanwhile shut down its computers as a precaution, a spokesman told AFP, but later found them to be unaffected by the attacks.

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TECHNOLOGY

There are still 16,000 public telephones in Spain

Spain has a law to provide at least one payphone for every 3,000 inhabitants, even though an average of one call a day is made from them.

There are still 16,000 public telephones in Spain
Photo: pawpopa3336/Depositphotos

New data reveals that Spain currently has over 16,000 public payphone dotted around the length of breadth of Spain even though an average of one call a day is made from them.

Telefonica sources cited by news agency Efe revealed that Spain's biggest telecommunications company currently spends €4.52 million a year maintaining the phone booths.

Despite the fact that they are rarely used, Telefonica is tied to a “universal service obligation” imposed by the government to provide and maintain in working order a public payphone for every 3,000 inhabitants in each town of 1,000 or more and one cabin in all municipalities of less than 1,000 inhabitants.

The company estimates that of the 16,000 currently in use, half are almost never used and 12,000 ceased to be profitable years ago, losing the company some €3 million  a year.

The number of payphones has been vastly reduced since the  introduction of mobile phones. Twenty years ago there were almost four times as many payphones across Spain  –  55,000 payphones available in 1999 – and you could expect to find one on many a street corner.

Spain's communications regulator CNMC has called on the government to drop the universal service obligation for public payphones after a recent survey found that nearly 9 in 10 Spaniards (88 percent) admitted to never having used a public payphone in their life.

When was the last time you used one?

READ ALSO: Could technology be killing off Spain's sociable mealtimes?

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