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Justice department rolls out contingency plans after hackers breach IT security systems

Department spokesperson, Steve Mahlangu, on Thursday confirmed that their IT systems have been hacked. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

Department spokesperson, Steve Mahlangu, on Thursday confirmed that their IT systems have been hacked. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

Published Sep 9, 2021

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DURBAN - THE DEPARTMENT of Justice has activated its Business Continuity Plan and put contingency measures in place to ensure that the IT system challenges do not affect court operations around the country.

Department spokesperson, Steve Mahlangu, on Thursday confirmed that their IT systems have been hacked.

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Mahlangu said the security breach was effected through ransomware on Monday.

"Manual recording equipment will be used to ensure that court hearings continue as scheduled. The Office of the Chief Master is currently using a manual process to provide bereaved families with the necessary documentation that they need to bury their loved ones," he said.

Mahlangu said 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,” he said.

Mahlangu explained that ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading.

“Drive-by downloading occurs when a user unknowingly visits an infected website and then malware is downloaded and installed without the user’s knowledge.

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“This has led to all information systems being encrypted and unavailable to both internal employees as well as members of the public,” he said.

He added that as a result, all electronic services provided by the department are affected, including, issuing of letters of authority, bail services, email, 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,” he said.

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The department said child maintenance payments for month-end have already been processed and will therefore not be impacted by the current system outage.

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