Trusty old CityPower has been hit by a ransomware attack that has rendered its online applications useless. This means that Joburg residents who rely on prepaid electricity are unable to make any purchases at the moment.
CityPower took to Twitter to inform members of the public that it has been attacked. According to some Twitter users, the problems accessing CityPower’s website started yesterday, and many have been plunged into darkness and unable to buy electricity through any platform.
This is ridiculous! It should be an urgent thing and you only tweeted this morning about it when we have been battling since yesterday to purchase electricity!
— J D Grimshaw (@JDGrimshaw2) July 25, 2019
A ransomware attack is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — a virus encrypts files and/or data and holds it ransom for some kind of payment. Normally the payment is expected in the shape of Bitcoin or some cryptocurrency. We don’t actually know what the hackers want in return for CityPower’s files at this stage.
“City Power has been hit by a Ransomware virus. It has encrypted all our databases, applications and network. Currently our ICT department is cleaning and rebuilding all impacted applications,” the company said in a tweet.
The attack has only affected prepaid users, who need access to CityPower’s applications to make purchases. Angry Twitter mobs have experienced issues trying to buy pre-paid electricity through banking apps and vouchers through third-parties.
Customers may not be able to visit our website and may not be able to buy electricity units until our ICT department has sorted the matter out, Customers and stakeholders will be updated as and when new information becomes available^GR
— @CityPowerJhb (@CityPowerJhb) July 25, 2019
Although it’s good to know CityPower is working to resolve the problems by rebuilding its applications, this could’ve been avoided by having the proper firewalls and security in place.