Ransomware Pwns South Africa’s Entire Department of Justice Network 

The justice ministry of the South African government has apparently been pwned in epic fashion by a ransomware attack. As it stands, they are completely down with all electronic services unavailable both internally and to the public:

The incident happened on September 6 and the department activated the contingency plan for such events to ensure the continuation of some activity in the country. Last week, [Steve Mahlangu, spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development] said that court sittings continued after a switch into manual mode for recording the hearings. A manual process has also been adopted for issuing various legal documents. However, the ransomware attack impacted monthly child maintenance payments, which have been delayed until the systems are restored. 

The department is still in the process of returning to regular operations but it is cannot say when the activity will become normal again. Part of this effort was setting up a new email system, to which some staff has already migrated. Coupled with the long time needed for network restoration, this is a sign that the hackers did not get paid. It is unclear who is behind this attack. Many ransomware gangs also steal data before encrypting it, to force the victim into paying the ransom under the pressure of a public leak. Mahlangu said last week that the Department’s IT experts have found “no indication of data compromise.” Until now, the attack has not been claimed by any of the gangs with a data leak site.

This is a very serious situation and shows that a ransomware attack can have far reaching consequences. Thus this is yet another example of why companies need to take the threat of a ransomware attack or some other network intrusion seriously and protect themselves accordingly. Otherwise, you could be these guys.

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