IT attack affects child maintenance payments
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CAPE TOWN: Activists have called for a speedy resolution, after it was confirmed that over 20 000 families around the country are set to be affected by a delay in child maintenance payments, following another Information Technology (IT) system security breach, caused by a ransomware attack.
This time, the target of the attack was the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD).
This is the second breach, in the space of three months, on a major government entity, following the crippling cyber hack of state-owned ports and freight-rail company Transnet, which also caused massive logistical delays, with devastating economic impacts.
The DOJCD’s Mojapay system, which was implemented in 2019, is currently not accessible and the department said they were not able to determine the exact date when the required systems will be restored.
“Our IT teams are working tirelessly to resolve this issue and Mojapay is our top priority because we understand the impact this has on families.
“The Department will ensure that all child maintenance money is kept secure, for payment to the rightful beneficiaries when the systems are back online,” said the department.
Deductions from the maintenance paying parent, however, were still set to go ahead as scheduled, as the current system challenges did not affect those deductions.
The Commissioner for Children in the province Christina Nomdo called for an urgent remedy.
“I am concerned by the news that child maintenance payments will be delayed. This will undoubtedly impact the ability of a parent to provide children with their basic needs, to ensure their well-being,” she said.
Manenberg Women’s League coordinator Amelia Tarra said the government needed to make a plan to minimise the impact on children.
“If money or resources could be made available for any other emergency, I don’t see how they don’t have the resources to make sure 20 000 children don’t go hungry this week. The government should have backup systems for these crises. Carers are dependent on that money for food, rent, and transport, which means the child will suffer. Why can’t the information be retrieved through their backup systems and handed over to another institution, like the Post Office, which also administers payments, to make the pay-outs and minimise the impact on that family?” she asked.
The Information Regulator said the breach took place on September 6.
“So far, no indication of data compromise has been detected on the systems. This security breach did not only interrupt the DOJCD’s IT systems, but also impacted on the work of the Information Regulator, which relies on the DOJCD’s IT systems for its own operations.”
The chairperson of the Information Regulator advocate Pansy Tlakula said they were concerned by the high number of security breaches in the country.
“In August alone, 38 responsible parties suffered and reported security breaches. Responsible parties are reminded of their obligation to secure the integrity and confidentiality of personal information of data subjects, by taking appropriate, reasonable, technical and organisational measures, to prevent unlawful access to, or processing of, personal information. Failure to do so has legal consequences,” she said.