Justice Dept Admits Some Info Was Accessed

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) has admitted that the ransomware attack it suffered may have compromised information belonging to individuals.

The department said at the weekend, on 19 September, some personal information might have been exfiltrated – data having been accessed and sent outside of the organisation. 

“We are in the process of establishing the exact nature of personal information that has been accessed (e.g. addresses, email, etc), as well as the affected parties involved,” said the DOJ&CD.

Since the ransomware attack earlier this month, several services have been affected.

“In this regard, over the past two weeks, the department has prioritised the processing of maintenance payments to beneficiaries that were to be paid during the mid-month payment run,” said the DOJ&CD.

“The processing of these payments was successfully completed on 16 September 2021 and every workday since, with most beneficiaries having received their payments from the 16th to 20th of September”

More than 30 000 beneficiaries have been paid as part of these “payment runs”, the department said. 

The system for payment is designed to make payments on every workday of the month, as and when payment is confirmed to have been received. 

“We are in the process of ascertaining from banks and employers who may have sent statements and schedules indicating payments made, during the period when the system was not accessible,” said the DOJ&CD.

“It is envisaged that this follow-up with the banks and employers will be completed by the end of this week to enable further payments to beneficiaries once payment received is confirmed. 

“Other processes are underway to address challenges that are being experienced.”

The department said media reports claiming a ransom had been demanded to restore its systems to full functionality were false.

While some services have been restored, the Masters Offices around the country continue to, as an interim measure, use a manual process, said the department.

The Masters Offices are assisting bereaved families, in exceptional cases, where there is a need to access funds from the deceased’s banking account for burial costs. 

“In this regard, the Offices of the Master of the High Court continues to provide the MBU 12 forms to bereaved families,” explained the department.

“In the interim that allows the family members access to the accounts of the deceased for the purpose of acquiring funds to pay for burial costs of the deceased. 

“However, manual letters of executorship or authority still cannot be issued during this crisis period, so as to address the risk of fraud.  

“The Guardian’s Fund regrettably, remains inaccessible, with every effort being made to restore some functionality during this week.”