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Ransomware encrypts entire South African Department of Justice network

Ransomware attack delays child support payment in South Africa

The South African government’s Justice Department is working to restore its operations after a recent ransomware attack that encrypted all of its systems, rendering all electronic services unavailable both internally and to the public.

Following the attack, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development said child support payments are now on hold until the systems are back online.

All departments concerned

The incident occurred on September 6 and the ministry activated the contingency plan for such events to ensure the continuation of certain activities in the country.

“[The attack] led to all information systems being encrypted and inaccessible to internal employees as well as members of the public. As a result, all electronic services provided by the ministry are affected, including issuance of letters of authorization, surety services, email and ministry website ”- Steve Mahlangu, spokesperson for the ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development

Last week, Mahlangu said court hearings were continuing after switching to manual mode for recording hearings. A manual process has also been adopted for issuing various legal documents.

However, the ransomware attack impacted monthly child support payments, which were delayed until systems were restored.

“While the ministry will not be able to determine the exact date when the required systems will be restored, it will ensure that all child support money is kept safe for payment to legitimate beneficiaries when systems will be back online ”- Steve Mahlangu

The department is still resuming normal activities, but it is impossible to say when activity will return to normal.

Part of that effort was to set up a new messaging system, to which some staff have already migrated. Coupled with the long time it takes to restore the network, this is a sign that the hackers weren’t paid.

It is not known who is behind this attack. Many ransomware gangs also steal data before encrypting it, to force the victim to pay the ransom under the pressure of a public leak.

Mahlangu said last week that IT experts in the department had found “no indication of data compromise.” So far, the attack has not been claimed by any of the gangs with a data breach site.

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