Transnet proves it — no company is safe from cyberattacks, fraud prevention service warns

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
The recent cyberattack on Transnet is a reminder that, in the technology age, no company is safe from cyber criminals, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service warned.
The recent cyberattack on Transnet is a reminder that, in the technology age, no company is safe from cyber criminals, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service warned.
Image: 123RF/WELCOMIA

The recent cyberattack on Transnet is a serious wake-up call and a reminder that, in the technology age, no company is safe from cyber criminals who are trying to disrupt operations or steal personal information.

This is the warning from the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service, which said that with the world spending most of 2020 in lockdown trying to deal with the affect of Covid-19 and with consumerism moving online, so has the criminal enterprise.

It said while Transnet was dealing with its cyberattack, Macsteel — one of SA’s largest steel suppliers — faced a similar cyberattack on its system.

SAFPS said at the end of June, there was also a major data leak at one of SA’s major insurers, QSure. A big player in SA’s insurance industry, it was hit by a data breach in which bank account numbers and other sensitive information were compromised by a third party.

QSure would not confirm how many records were exposed through the breach.

“These co-ordinated attacks by cyber criminals are indicative of the environment that we live in at the moment,” says Manie van Schalkwyk, the CEO of SAFPS.

Van Schalkwyk said these criminals are motivated, well-funded, and do not care who they go after.

The organisation said the cyber attack on Transnet affected the company so significantly that it had to temporarily halt all operations at its ports in Durban, Ngqura, Gqeberha and Cape Town.

It said Macsteel reported soon after the attack that no personal information was stolen from the company and that its operations returned to normal soon after the attack.

“Today, cybercriminals may go after a large corporate to try to disrupt their services or steal money from them.

“Tomorrow, they may go after a bank or a financial services provider — like an insurer — to target personal information,” Van Schalkwyk said.

He said the question to be asked was whether South African financial institutions are prepared for a huge cyberattack similar to that suffered by Transnet where the operations of the entire company were put on hold.

“This is why early prevention, and necessary protection, is so important in the current environment,” Van Schalkwyk said.

The SAFPS said it has an array of products which offers key protection including its Protective Registration.

“Protective Registration is a free service protecting individuals against future fraud. Consumers apply for this service and the SAFPS alerts its members to take additional care when dealing with that individual’s details.”

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