Joburgers say “We Will Not Pay”, as City Uncovers Hacking Details

26 Nov

“We don’t negotiate with terrorists” is the type of thing you expect to hear on a fast-paced, action movie. This, however, is the very same stance that the City of Johannesburg took with the “Shadow Kill Hackers” who demanded 4 bitcoins (amounting to approximately half a million rand) from the City in October.

This is not the first time that the City of Johannesburg has been in the spotlight for security breaches; in fact, we covered news of a prior ransomware attack on Johannesburg back in August of 2019. If you live in the Johannesburg area, you might have been affected by this as the city shut down its website, all e-services, and call centre, as a precautionary measure after being alerted to the breach.

What happened in the Jo’burg City Hacking?

The self-named Shadow Kill Hackers contacted the City of Johannesburg and made their demands – 4 Bitcoins to be paid over to them by 5pm on 28th of October. The demands went on to say that if payment wasn’t made they would release all the data they had managed to retrieve from the City’s server on to the internet.

This is undoubtedly a valuable lesson to the City of Johannesburg, and all other municipalities about encryption.

The City of Joburg did not comply with the demands. They had another strategy in mind which involved investigation, improvement in system security, and following the letter of the law by letting the public know of the breach.

A great precedent was set by the response of the City, not only in the fact that it refused to concede to the ransom demand but also because it immediately set to work calling in experts to restore services and find out who was responsible for the disruption.

What’s the Final Solution?

Quite simply – the IT experts need to implement new, reliable systems. Major-General Sibiya, Head of Forensics, said that the Hawks have the case in hand and are making progress in interviewing various witnesses.

He also stated that the City is now aware of how the attack was executed when it was carried out, and where. They are now properly aware of the vulnerabilities that the City of Joburg’s servers have, with experts working on upgrading the systems. In short; the City of Johannesburg has it under control!

How Can You Protect Yourself?

If you hear that one of your online service providers or digital service providers has been hacked or has suffered a breach, that’s your cue to take action. Make sure that your accounts are either deleted and reinstated or that you change all of your passwords to something completely dissimilar to the one that you had.

You would also be well advised to do a few credit checks in the months to follow, just to ensure that no fake identity has been created using your details, and racking up a huge bill! You also need to get in touch with the service provider to ascertain the severity of the attack and to confirm the status of the threat. If the service provider is dedicated to customer care and your safety, they will also provide you with a list of “next steps” for you to follow.

While a big congrats goes to the City of Johannesburg for handling the situation as best they could, this recent hacking still serves as a valuable lesson to businesses as well as the man on the street.

No one is ever completely safe from hacking

If it can happen to the City of Johannesburg, it can most certainly happen to you! Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your data and be sure that it is backed up regularly to the cloud.

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