SA to see a massive cyberattack in 2017, expert

2017-03-29 10:27 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Johannesburg - Cyber-security experts predict that South Africans will see a massive malware attack in the country on the scale of a recent attack which knocked out San Francisco’s public transport system, affecting over 2 000 commuters. 

Jon Tullett, IDC (International Data Corporation) research analyst was speaking at an IDC and Microsoft security deep dive event centered on cyber threats when he said that basic mistakes in protect content, data and information led to massive data leaks and hackings around the world.

“One of our predictions for 2017 we will see something like this in South Africa likely on a public service level or within financial services. It will be a very public malware or ransomware attack,” he said.  

READ: Hawks investigator lauds 'brilliant' cybercrime bill

In November 2016, hackers used malware to infect 2000 computers which were used for San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) ticketing system. 

The attackers used encrypted data in the MTA system and prevented them from operating normally – holding them to ransom for 100 bitcoin ($73,086 at the time).

All the computers used for the ticketing system displayed a black screen with a ransom note saying: “You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted. Contact For Key (, Enter.”

Tullet made reference to other cyberattacks and breaches such as the Adult FriendFinder hack in which one of world's largest adult sex and adult dating sites experienced a security breach, leading the exposing of account information of its users. 

“Real people are being affected and the same credentials are being used on other sites and their credentials are linked to personal and corporate email addresses,” Tullet said. 

READ: Ster-Kinekor website flaw puts 7 million users' data at risk

However, Tullet’s prediction may not be far off, just recently it was revealed that up to 7 million South Africans were at risk for a possible data leak on a website belonging to local movie theatre chain Ster-Kinekor. 

Online resource dubbed '', which helps users find out if any of their accounts have been compromised, tweeted about the compromise saying that “Ster-Kinekor had 1.6 million accounts exposed in 2017”.

Microsoft SA’s legal attorney Theo Watson with an increase in cyptocurreny usage like BitCoin and the Internet of Things (IoT) South Africans needed to understand cyber privacy and security better.

“It is an education process that begins from the bottom and goes up,” Watson said. 

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