Some of the country’s national government departments, state-owned companies and local municipalities have been on the receiving end of cyber attacks recently.
JOHANNESBURG – A cyber security analyst has warned that there are massive cost implications for municipalities with compromised digital infrastructure.
Some of the country’s national government departments, state-owned companies, and local municipalities have been on the receiving end of cyber-attacks recently.
This includes the 2019 attack on the city of Johannesburg, the 2021 Transnet incident that saw the company declare a force majeure, and last year’s breach of security systems in the City of Cape Town.
Analyst at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Muyowa Mutemwa said getting systems back up and running following a cyber attack is a costly exercise that sometimes requires bypassing procurement processes to get experts on board.
“That’s a lot of money.”
Mutemwa made the comments during a digital forum by the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in Sandton on Friday.
Other costs included paying internal staff overtime and loss of revenue by the municipality which is unable to deliver some services during downtime.
“Roughly we take about two to three weeks to remediate [after a cyber attack],” said Mutemwa.
READ: Municipal employees are soft targets for hackers, says CSIR cybersecurity expert
Mutemwa said that there are a number of reasons hackers would target national and local government departments, including theft of intellectual property, the mining of critical data, and financial gain.
Mutemwa added that there was a need to tighten policy to address cyber security across the board.
However, he pointed out that South Africa’s status as a developing country, as well as the fact that its digital infrastructure was ahead of some of its Southern African counterparts, meant that hackers approach it with caution.
“More and more threat actors are realising that as much as South Africa is a developing country economically, it doesn’t mean that they will pay, for example, a 50-million-dollar ransom. They’ll probably pay a smaller ransom amount. So threat actors will also do their research as well… they do understand the gross domestic product of a country.”