A group of cybercriminals referring themselves as the “Shadow Kill Hackers” has reportedly hacked into the City of Johannesburg’s administration system.
The unidentified hackers assert that they hold the private data of millions of South Africans and are threatening to upload the breached data on the internet unless four Bitcoins (BTC) — worth approximately $35,879.88 — are deposited into a crypto wallet by October 28 at 5 PM, reports The South African.
As a result of the security incident, city officials have shut down their websites and e-payment systems.
The alleged hack coincided with numerous banks reporting internet issues, which are believed to be related to the cyber attacks.
Security professionals and law enforcement are investigating the security incident.
The city posted a message on Twitter stating that it had “detected a network breach which resulted in an unauthorised access to our information systems.”
“The incident is currently being investigated by City of Joburg cyber security experts, who have taken immediate and appropriate action to reinforce security measures to mitigate any potential impacts. As a result several customer facing systems — including the city’s website, e-services and billing systems — have been shut down as a precaution,” the city adds.
Various city employees said they received a ransom note which reads: “All your servers and data have been hacked. We have dozens of back doors inside your city. We have control of everything in your city. We also compromised all passwords and sensitive data such as finance and personal population information.”
Several banks were hit by cyber-attacks that affected public-facing services earlier this week. Nevertheless, they do not constitute a hack or a data breach and no customer data was compromised, according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre.
Security professionals and law enforcement generally do not recommend paying the ransom fee. Nonetheless, hackers and cybercriminals may be open to negotiating.