Ransomware attack crisis over, says justice department

Online service back on track as malware spread is contained

Gill Gifford Senior journalist
With cyber attacks on the rise in SA, consumers have been warned to take steps to protect themselves. Stock photo.
With cyber attacks on the rise in SA, consumers have been warned to take steps to protect themselves. Stock photo.
Image: 123rf

Most online services, the payment of child maintenance to beneficiaries and the electronic recording of court proceedings is virtually back to normal after last month’s ransomware attack on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The September attack led to a massive crisis, causing major disruptions to all divisions — including the web portal used by transcribers to download court recordings for transcription purposes, and which has been successfully restored. 

The department on Sunday said in a statement successful measures have been made over the past few weeks to recover from the attack. This has involved work by department officials, industry specialists and advisers from various organs of state to contain the spread of the malware and reactivate online services in a safe and secure manner.

Referring to the challenges experienced by court transcribers, spokesperson Steve Mahlangu said: “Most of the recordings are intact, and able to sync back to the central repository. Where courts are still experiencing challenges, a special capacity has been deployed to attend to queries on a case-by-case basis.”

He added considerable progress had been made in the restoration of the administrative system used by all courts (particularly the Office of the Master of the High Court), known as the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS).

“Parts of the system are already accessible, such as curatorship, and the online portals used for historic searches. More work will be done in the next few days to complete the process of bringing back online functionality in respect of trusts, deceased estates and Insolvencies,” said Mahlangu.

He said a high level assessment in respect of the possible leak of personal information, and in line with the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act had been finalised and the department had notified all data subjects via its website.

Measures to strengthen online security and protect the sensitive person information under the custodianship of the Department of Justice had been taken, along with more stringent access controls.

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