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Recent cyber attacks in South Africa

For business leaders in South Africa, corporate cybercrime is taking centre stage as a major risk to the enterprise. The ‘hacking economy’ is now thriving globally, and local businesses and organisations have been falling prey to sophisticated attacks for some time now. These attacks often come in the insidious forms of encryption and ransomware.

Worryingly, for businesses that are already being challenged by a fragile socio-political environment, targeted cyber attacks can prove to be crippling. Often, the reputational damage cannot even be properly quantified.


We have already seen major SA businesses, media organisations and government entities come under attack: here are some examples of hackers causing financial and political havoc in South Africa.


December 2012 | Moroccans hack SA government. The Department of Social Development, the Presidential Planning Commission and the National Population Unit's sites were all hacked by "H4ksniper", which linked to a Facebook account of someone called Moroccan Haksnipx. Luckily no sensitive information was reportedly accessed or release.


Jan 2012 | Postbank lost R 30 million in a high tech heist by cybercrime syndicate with in-depth knowledge of the Postbank IT systems.


June 2016 | Standard Bank South Africa was hit in sophisticated, coordinated fraud incident by a Japanese cyber criminal syndicate - the bank lost R300m through ATM fraud.


July 2016 | Armscor the official arms procurement agency of the SA Department of Defence website was hacked and lost a part of their supply database. About 63MB of HTML files from the company was reportedly leaked onto the dark web. The records allegedly included ordering and payment details for companies like Denel, Airbus, Thales and Rolls-Royce. The hackers claimed to have access to nearly 20,000 supplier names, IDs, names and passwords.


July 2016 | SABC website, as well as websites linked to the Gupta family, was hacked by Anonymous Africa saying they were targeting corrupt governments. The hacks took the form of flooding servers with thousands of requests at once.


2016 | University of Limpopo. New World Havkers, linked with the same group that attacked government sites, defaced the home page of the University of Limpopo and released a trove of data belonging to students. The hackers later revealed themselves to be operating under the #OpAfrica banner. They published data containing exam and intranet files, the personal data of 16,000 university alumni, as well as the personal information contained in some 1,700 department faculty entries.


Dec 2016 and 2017 | KFC’s customer data were leaked. Hackers broke into the KFC loyalty scheme after breaching the chain’s website and gaining access to the information of 1.2 million KFC loyalty members. Soon after that, another attack was launched at KFC by a disgruntled employee who made sure that 1 in 3 transactions didn’t go through which meant that thousands of people got free chicken and KFC lost out on 30% of their revenue till they discovered the problem.


2017 | Old Mutual customer data breach. The company detected an unauthorised entry to one of its systems which led to some customer information being accessed. The company said that personal information of a relatively small group of customers in South Africa was obtained including ‘customers’ name, telephone number and some investment values’.


March 2017 | Ster-Kinekor were affected by a data leak via a website belonging to the local movie theatre chain. An online resource called haveibeenpwned.com’, which helps users find out in any of their accounts have been compromised, tweeted about the breach – saying that “Ster-Kinekor had 1.6 million accounts exposed in 2017.”


According to reports, up to 7 million South Africans were affected by a data leak via a website belonging to local movie theatre chain Ster-Kinekor.


June 2017 | Buffalo City Municipality and Eastern Cape Education Department somehow managed to upset an Islamic activist organisation who defaced their websites - both of their sites.


November 2017 | Deeds Office leak. It has been called the biggest hacking scandal in South Africa’s history: more than 30-million records and 2.2-million emails were published online and discovered by an Australian web security expert. The data breach consisted of names, addresses, ID numbers, home ownership statuses, employers and more.


May 2018 | Viewfines. The personal data of nearly a million South Africans who used the website ViewFines to check for traffic fines was leaked in May this year. The data included personal information such as ID numbers. It emerged that the passwords kept on the site were in plaintext, and the operations manager of Aggregated Payment System (Pty) Ltd, said this was because when the site was created in 2006, this type of security was sufficient.


June 2018 | Liberty is the latest in the series of companies and government departments to fall victim to cyber attacks in the recent years. The hackers only accessed their email servers and had mostly obtained emails. Liberty got off lightly as they maintained that no one lost any money as a result of the breach.


Stay ahead of cybercriminals. Find out how Grove's best-of-breed technology solutions can protect your business from cyber threats. Contact us today.
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Tags: Cybersecurity

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