A ransomware attack on the South African Department of Justice (DOJ) has made all electronic services unavailable. Steve Mahlangu spokesperson for the DOJ and Constitutional Development stated, “[The attack] 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 department website.” The outage also halted monthly child maintenance payments until further notice. The attack took place on September 6th and it is still unknown when regular operations will resume. Mahlangu said the DOJ’s IT department have found no indication of data compromise and is still unclear about who is behind the attack.
To protect against ransomware attacks, organizations should:
• Regularly back up data, air gap, and password protect backup copies offline.
• Ensure copies of critical data are not accessible for modification or deletion from the system where the data resides.
• Implement network segmentation.
• Implement a recovery plan to maintain and retain multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, secure location (i.e., hard drive, storage device, the cloud).
• Install updates/patch operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as practical after they are released. Implement monitoring of security events on employee workstations and servers, with a 24/7 Security Operations Center to detect threats and respond quickly.
• Use multifactor authentication where possible.
• Use strong passwords and regularly change passwords to network systems and accounts, implementing the shortest acceptable timeframe for password changes.
• Avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts.
• Focus on cyber security awareness and training.
• Regularly provide users with training on information security principles and techniques as well as overall emerging cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities.