Johannesburg City Network Shutdown over Bitcoin Ransom Hack

Michael LaVere
  • The City of Johannesburg has been forced to shut down its network following hackers gaining access and demanding bitcoin for ransom.
  • Multiple South African banks experienced hacks earlier in the week as cybersecurity attacks become more sophisticated in the country.

The City of Johannesburg has been forced to shut down its official website and billing systems following unauthorized access by a hacking group that is now demanding bitcoin for ransom. 

According to a report by Bloomberg published Oct. 25, South African authorities were forced to turn off their network following a group of hackers gaining access to the system. The hackers demanded a ransom of 4 BTC ($30,000) in return.

An official tweet by the City of Joburg account said that call centers, cashiers and other digitally connected platforms were being forced offline following the breach as a precautionary measure. 

The city claims the incident is currently being investigated by “cyber security experts,” and is expected to resolve in 24 hours. Calls for emergency services are being diverted to the Provincial Call Centre until network function returns. 

The hacking group, which goes by the name Shadow Kill Hackers, briefly advertised their feat on the City’s official website prior to it being shut down. 

According to the report by Bloomberg, cybersecurity attacks have become an increasingly more sophisticated problem in South Africa. In July, Johannesburg’s power supply was crippled by a virus that limited customer’s ability to purchase electricity online. Multiple banks were also affected by hacks earlier in the week, but reportedly no customer data was put at risk.

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