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Standard Bank, Lightstone hit by data breach

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Big-four bank Standard Bank and property firm Lightstone have suffered a data breach that exposed the personal information of property owners.

In a statement, the companies say they “confirm that they are aware that information of some property owners in South Africa was accessed without permission through the LookSee online platform”.

LookSee is one of Standard Bank’s home services platforms, which provides property valuations and trends.

LookSee uses Lightstone as an information provider in respect of valuation and market intelligence on properties in South Africa.

Say the companies: “Regrettably, the initial investigations have shown that personal information of some property owners, including individual names, identity numbers, entity registration numbers, marital status and physical addresses may have been exposed.”

However, they say the personal information does not contain any banking details, cellphone numbers or e-mail addresses.

The data breach comes as more and more South African organisations have been targeted by cyber criminals.

South Africa has witnessed high-profile cyber attacks and cyber crimes in the public and private sectors increasing at an alarming rate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In late July, South Africa’s ports and railways were brought to a standstill as a cyber attack hit Transnet, the country’s rail, port and pipeline company.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development was also recently hit by a ransomware attack, which resulted in all electronic services provided by the department being affected, including the issuing of letters of authority, bail services, e-mail and the departmental website.

Also this year, the South African National Space Agency – a government agency responsible for the promotion and development of aeronautics and aerospace space research in SA – notified the public of a breach to its IT systems.

Standard Bank and Lightstone say they take data security and privacy extremely seriously. “Both organisations have implemented the appropriate containment and risk mitigation plans and have reported the matter to the relevant authorities, including the Information Regulator,” they say.

“Standard Bank and Lightstone are working closely together to give this investigation the support and urgency that it deserves and have implemented immediate remedial measures. In addition, we will continue to enhance our security measures.”

The companies note that impacted property owners are urged to remain vigilant and employ good security practices on all their digital platforms, including banking and social media, as a precaution.

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