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Ransomware attack leaves Johannesburg without power

(Image credit: Carlos Amarillo / Shutterstock)

Some of Johannesburg has been left without power after South Africa's largest city and financial capital has been hit by a ransomware attack.

The ransomware infection affected City Power which provides pre-paid electric power to Johannesburg residents and local companies. The company's database, internal network, web apps and official website were all encrypted by the malware disrupting its operations and leaving customers frustrated.

In a series of tweets, City Power said that it had fallen victim to a ransomware attack which is now preventing customers from both buying electrical power units and selling them back into the grid.

In addition, several Power City customers have complained about blackouts at their homes and across the city that occurred over the last 12 hours since the ransomware infected the company's systems. 

The company has also had difficulties responding to outages at the speeds its customers are used to as a result of not being able to access its internal applications.

Cities targeted by ransomware

Johannesburg may be the latest city to be infected with ransomware but compared to others, so far it appears to have got off easy for now.

A number of cities and municipalities have paid huge ransom demands to cybercriminals to regain access to their files and systems including Riviera Beach City, Florida which paid $600,000, Lake City, Florida which paid $500,000 and Jackson County, Georgia which paid $400,000.

Atlanta and Baltimore have suffered large-scale ransomware infections that made a number of city services unavailable and in the end, both paid tens of millions of dollars to rebuild their IT networks.

Fortunately for Johannesburg, it's main IT network wasn't infiltrated but the ransomware attack on City Power is just another compelling reason for cities and other public sector organizations to beef up their security now or risk paying even more in the long run.

Via ZDNet

Anthony Spadafora

After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal and TechRadar. He has been a tech enthusiast for as long as he can remember and has spent countless hours researching and tinkering with PCs, mobile phones and game consoles.