'Critical for country to ensure infrastructure is protected from cyber-attack'
Thursday morning saw Johannesburg agency City Power crippled by a ransomware attack, with residents unable to carry out ordinary transactions such as buying pre-paid electricity.
The company tweeted that it had been the victim of a “ransomware virus” that “encrypted our databases, applications and network”.
#JoburgUpdates @CityPowerJhb: Customers should not panic as none of their details were compromised. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to the people of the City of Joburg. Please be patient with us, we expect to have everything back in order by the end of Thursday ^GZ— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) July 25, 2019
So, how does ransomware work exactly, and just how vulnerable are we?
Standing in for John Maytham, Melanie Rice poses these questions to Charl Ueckermann, chief executive officer of AVeS Cyber Security.
It's being vigilant and making sure the basics are in place to protect you - we can never protect ourselves totally, we can never eliminate all risk totally but we can at least get the basics in place.Charl Ueckermann, CEO - AVeS Cyber Security
Weighing in on Thursday's attack, Ueckermann says although he's certain Joburg City Power would have had the necessary firewalls and anti-virus tools in place, it exposed certain vulnerabilities in the system.
He also thinks there was an agenda behind the ransomware incident.
That could have been on their web servers, it could have been something that has happened internally where a malicious mail was received and people clicked on the link, someone downloading certain software on a USB or browsing a website that downloaded certain information...Charl Ueckermann, CEO - AVeS Cyber Security
I am quite sure that they have spent millions on security, so obviously there was something significantly exposed and hence there was clearly intent in terms of accessing their systems and bringing it down.Charl Ueckermann, CEO - AVeS Cyber Security
He says it's critical for South African as a nation to make sure our infrastructure is properly protected from a cyber-attack perspective.
If you really want to bring a country down, just bring its utility down. If the power grid is down everything will basically come to a halt at some stage.Charl Ueckermann, CEO - AVeS Cyber Security
Think about some of the questionable contracts which were about to be signed at Eskom - what the potential impacts of those could have been.Charl Ueckermann, CEO - AVeS Cyber Security
For more from Ueckermann, listen here: