Ransomware Attack on Electric Power Grid Company Entire Network Encrypted in South Africa

Ransomware Attack

This morning, a ransomware attack on the South African electricity utility City Power in Johannesburg encrypted all of its systems, including databases and applications.

The incident affects one of Johannesburg’s largest power suppliers, owned by the town. At the same time, customers have reported several power failures on Twitter, but if they are related, it has not been confirmed.

The attack uses an unknown ransomware strain, which prevented certain customers from buying electricity units via their prepaid company electricity sales system.

The incident “also affected our response to logged calls since the impact was slowed down by some in-house shipping and ordering systems,” said the official Twitter account of Johannesburg municipality.

“Dear customers, please note that we are currently experiencing a problem with our prepaid vending system,” an automated voice message on City Power’s phone helpline says as per Business Insider South Africa.”We are working on this issue and hope to have it resolved by one o’clock today”.

“So far most of the IT applications and networks that were affected by the cyber attack have been cleaned up and restored,” tweeted the Johannesburg municipality.

“However, work is still continuing on some systems and applications that were affected including the uploading of invoices by our suppliers, and logging faults by customers on the website”

City Power has implemented for its customers the following temporary measures and alternatives:

  • Fault logging – customers may not be able to use the website, as such they are requested to log calls on their cellphones using citypower.mobi
  • Submitting Invoices – Suppliers seeking to submit invoices for payments should rather bring their invoices physically to City Power offices in Booysen

“Customers should not panic as none of their details were compromised. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to the people of the City of Joburg,” added the municipality. “Please be patient with us, we expect to have everything back in order by the end of Thursday,”

The attacks by Ransomware have affected a large number of other cities in the past two weeks, paying La Porte County, Indiana, for $130,000 to collect data on encrypted computer systems, Lawrenceville police for FBI assistance, and New York City Monroe College for its IT systems.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.