back to article Tech contractors fume over payday outage at Giant Pay after it sniffs 'suspicious activity'

Giant Pay – an umbrella company used by contractors across the UK – has confirmed "suspicious activity" on its platform is behind a days-long ongoing outage that has left folk fretting about whether they'll get paid this month. In an update on its website today, the firm said: "Upon detection of suspicious activity on our …

  1. AnonymousCoward

    Sounds like a crack team for dealing with an IT outage

    "... we immediately assembled a response team including IT data experts and specialist lawyers,..."

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a crack team for dealing with an IT outage

      Yeah, the lawyers thing. What the hell are they supposed to be doing at this point in time ? GDPR control to ensure that the IT guys aren't sneaking peeks at payroll data ?

      You solve the technical problem, then you bring in the lawyers to sue somebody's pants off.

      This is putting the cart before the horse. That rarely works well.

      Unless . . . unless the lawyers are already drafting a defense against the sueballs that will be coming their way.

      That might be it.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Sounds like a crack team for dealing with an IT outage

        I would imagine that the solicitors are working to minimise the liability of directors as suggested by your last sentence.

        There could be a range of liabilities as I gather that this company is acting as an intermediary between the IT person and a larger company in such a way that NI and tax payments are involved. Quite a few parties in a range of contracts there.

        Best of luck to all those involved.

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like a crack team for dealing with an IT outage

        You're assuming a technical issue.

        I read it as an organised fraud attempt, in which case understanding their legal obligations and to whom they really shouldn't send any money is quite important.

        That it causes delays in payroll is of course horrible for anybody living near the line, but it sounds like they're trying to mitigate that too.

    2. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Sounds like a crack team for dealing with an IT outage

      My specialist team were experts before the term 'IT' existed.

      I love how some collage educated VP noob who only has the capacity to drive a PS4 tries to tell us how IT works.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: collage educated

        Sounds like a very ad hoc form of teaching.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: collage educated

          Yeah, but when you have a collage education, everything sticks!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any reason to delay payments

    It took the lot I was with Agency > Umbrella 8 weeks to pay the first payment.

    Then another for the second week, any excuse to slow payments down.

    They wanted me to issue an invoice, I said no problems as long as you pay the VAT as well.

    It seems that Agency was paying from the Netherlands and so was the Umbrella company.

    This was too smelly for my liking and I quit, looking for Outside IR35 role only.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any reason to delay payments

      "It took the lot I was with Agency > Umbrella 8 weeks to pay the first payment."

      Not this lot, but, that happened with the crowd I was with earlier, and then the agency folded, and along with it the 2 months due from the time I was with the umbrella, and the month before that due to the changeover to IR35, the amount was outstanding from the agency.

      I doubt I'll even see even a few pennies in the pound once the liquidator finishes charging their fees into the frozen bank accounts of the agency. This was at the start of the first lockdown/IR35 deadline (which actually got postponed, but the client forced the switch - and the client - "nothing to do with us", in terms of any liabilities - and it's a BIG company - and no government help either

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Any reason to delay payments

      Slightly annoyed that the agency I contract through pays OutsIde IR35 contractors within 14 days of receipt of funds but pays Inside IR35 contractors 30 days after funds received from the client (which can be 180 days). I am still waiting to be paid fo work done in May 2021.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Any reason to delay payments

        In my contracts with two large aerospace companies on the continent, contracting to a European intra-government body, my quarterly invoices were often paid between six to nine months after the invoices were issued. In subsequent frame contracts, the client inserted clauses which would penalise prime contractors and allow sub-contractors to be paid directly from the client if invoices weren't paid on time - and they suddenly managed to pay within 30 days.

  3. Ochib

    Update

    Looks like there is more to this than meets the eye

    "Upon detection of suspicious activity on our network on 22nd September 2021, we immediately assembled a response team including IT data experts and specialist lawyers, and we are currently working with the highest priority to resolve this issue. As part of the investigation and as a measure of caution, we have proactively taken our systems offline and suspended all services temporarily. We are also liaising with regulatory bodies to investigate and remediate the situation. We can confirm that our databases are encrypted.

    As an interim measure, and to ensure that payment is made to your account on 24 September, we will pay you the same amount that was paid to you last week. This will be paid via Faster Pay and will be in your account by the end of the day. As soon as possible, we will confirm that your payroll is back to normal. We appreciate that this is not ideal, but we wanted to ensure that you receive a payment.

    We apologise for the disruption and appreciate your patience whilst we investigate this matter and work to restore functionality."

    https://www.giantpay.co.uk/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Update

      Their line of "We can confirm that our databases are encrypted" sounds like weasel words to me as it fails to state WHO encrypted their databases!

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Update

        Given you need to access your databases on a regular basis, encrypting them is just going to slow things down without improving security in any way.

        1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
          Meh

          Re: Update

          It does help if someone gets hold of the raw database files though, it does mean you can't mount them on another server without the encryption key.

          Of course, if someone's been daft enough to store that in the same directory as the database files, you might as well not bother in the first place...

        2. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: Update

          Erm. You've never encountered encryption of data at rest? It's not even 'very common', it's best practice for many types of data in many industries.

          Why do you think homomorphic encryption exists?

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Update

      "We can confirm that our databases are encrypted"

      Yes, but were they before the 'suspicious activity'???

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Update

        and is the encryption done with Salting?

        1. Roland6 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Update

          nah! XOR

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. M-2
    Flame

    Fed up with all this....

    Thats the one thing really pissing me off, Absolutley no way of contacting them and no notification from them. Really how hard is it to send an email or at least put a proper notice on their front page!!

    It's not just this otage, for the past month at least they have not been replying to any of my requests. They do action them but they never reply to support rquests. What ever happened to being able to actually speak to someone on the other end.

    Another case of a company getting too big to actually take care of their customers. We're forced into this situation by IR35, not by choice!

    Thanks Boris, I've got the Lube ready for when you want to bend me over some more!!!

    1. M-2
      Pint

      Re: Less Fed up with all this now ....

      Rant over.....

      I recieved a payment from them this evening.

      At least they have stuck to their vague notification (With me at least)

      Right, i'm off to the (contractor) casino :)

      Sorry i meant paying the mortgage....

  6. 3rdlight

    They've now changed the wording around payments to "Where possible, an interim payment will be made to you today, 24 September"

  7. AnnOnMyHouse

    What issue though

    This has been offline for days now, so what's the actual issue, do we have a serious data breach, are the accounts being raped and pillaged by marauding vikings or just the Hamburgler looking for burger money??? The communication has been non existent. This should be shocking, but alas except for taking their pound of flesh for little service, they have no purpose.

  8. Dwarf Silver badge
    Joke

    Sounds like they have Giant Problems, can we call that growing pains ?

  9. Alze

    Thanks for nothing !

    Absolute joke (on us contractors) - the updates on the website have been sporadic with no time, just the same date and the message keeps on changing 'everyone will get paid today' to 'Where possible, an interim payment will be made to you today, 24 September'. Not a happy Friday.

  10. rmm2711@hotmail.co.uk

    Shocking behaviour from Giant

    Absolutely disgusted that no communication was sent to their employees on Tuesday, now there is no way to contact them, no phone lines, don’t reply to emails and now no pay….does anyone know where we stand with your this? Not a good Friday

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think you'll find it's obvious

    They run a Windows network and the file systems is encrypted. The lawyers are seeking an injunction against unknown Russian/Chinese/North Korean hackers to stop them revealing anything, while options are sold before the share price tanks. The internal tech team are being assisted an external elite team that's been engaged to show the world the company takes security seriously and are working to shut the stable doors. Meanwhile the internal team are explaining to the elites they've been asking the c-suite to take security seriously for the past 5 years, but it's fallen on deaf ears and are learning they should be getting a position with the elite team considering their daily rate and the fact the external team don't have any greater skills they they do, just a better marketing department.

  12. Roland6 Silver badge

    Letters to MP's?

    I hope those affected are sending leters to their MP's; especially if their MP supported the changes to IR35...

  13. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    ...How many contractors have been hit by this and what can they do to get paid?"...

    Well, I suppose they could go back to the pre-IR35, umbrellaless days.

    Bill directly, submit invoices and actually get paid some time after hell's frozen over, with sod-all chance of anything remotely like an apology or an interim payment.

    Just remember, the "Good Old Days" had things like the Three Day Week, British Leyland cars, British Rail and GPO telephony in them.

    See also: Rose tinted spectacles, repeating the mistakes of history.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No pay for me today..

    Woke up today to find out I hadn't been paid. As others have suggested, minimal comms from Giant, no one available to speak with in person, no one replying to emails.

    Personally I am owed a five figure sum from Giant and I am now doubting I will ever see any of this.

    Fear not, my agency and the end client are expecting me to turn up as usual today.

    1. Jorge Orwell

      Re: No pay for me today..

      Same here . . . Like everybody else, forced to use an umbrella by IR35, and it's looking doubtful I'll get paid for the last 2 months of hard work.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: No pay for me today..

        Simple question as I don't understand some of the finer nuances of all the IR35 stuff.

        Why do you need an umbrella company if you are being engaged through IR35 or maybe why is IR35 forcing you to use umbrella companies?

        It is not that long ago there was a huge hoo-ha (with many comments against them on El Reg) about umbrella companies with many stating there were for "mitigating" tax etc.

  15. webzakimbo

    It’s totally unsurprising they’ve been hacked with a result as chaotic as this.

    Their timesheet portal seems to be same used by their staff for back office - am I imagining it or are they running a single monolith for all functions?!

    When one is down, all of it is down. When you can’t submit timesheets their staff seem to lose access to information at the same time ‘we’ll make a note of it and get back to you later’. It is an appallingly bad application. They sure charge enough for it too - they’re certainly not investing any of that back into technology, least of all security.

    The UI looks to have been hacked together by a temp some times in early 1997. I dread to think what their backend looks like. It’s clear they invest close to zero in their IT, and I eagerly await more info on the hack. I bet it’ll be a case of ‘exploited via the web application from an exploit documented by owasp 15 years ago with the rest of the system wide open’.

    And as for their comms… quite unable, even unwilling, to communicate effictively at the best of times it’s clear that they operate with total disdain for the contractors on their books.

    Giant is a solid example of a terrible, terrible company.

    1. Crunchie

      Yes they said early on that they had to take everything down including their phone and email system in response to the same 'issue' so if that's what you mean by a monolith, this appears to be the case, yes.

      Like many others I'm sitting on 5 weeks of unpaid work, and cursing the stupid legislation that led to this debacle. Having been signed up to a decidedly dodgy umbrella in my first encounter with the things I was already wary of using them, but had at least thought a legit outfit like Giant would be competent at paying people.

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