South Africa

Justice department hacked, hitting internal and external info systems

Justice department hacked, hitting internal and external info systems

The justice and constitutional development department has been hacked.

Spokesperson Steve Mahlangu said the breach was affected through ransomware on Monday evening.

“This has led to all information systems being encrypted and unavailable to both internal employees as well as members of the public. As a result, all electronic services provided by the department are affected, including the issuing of letters of authority, bail services,
e-mail and the departmental website.

“The department would want to assure all affected parties that our IT teams are working tirelessly to restore services as soon as is practically possible.

“Child maintenance payments for month-end have already been processed and will therefore not be affected by the current system outage,” said Mahlangu.

The department said it had activated its business continuity plan and had put contingency measures in place to ensure that the IT system challenges do not affect court operations around the country.

Manual recording equipment will be used to ensure that court sittings continue as scheduled.

“The office of the chief master is using a manual process to provide bereaved families with the necessary documentation that they need to bury their loved ones,” said Mahlangu.

“The department’s IT experts are working together with state agencies to investigate and resolve the problem. So far no indication of data compromise has been detected.

“The department apologises for any inconvenience this may cause to the public.”

Last year, the Mail & Guardian reported that the department had been victim to a cyber attack, with R10m stolen from the Guardian Fund's accounts in the Pietermaritzburg master of the court offices. 

At the time, justice and constitutional development minister Ronald Lamola's spokesperson, Crispin Phiri, told the publication that “unauthorised transactions may have been attempted on the Guardian Fund.

“The SAPS will investigate all elements of possible criminality. In addition, the department of justice and constitutional development's forensic team and banking partners are conducting an internal investigation.”