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Justice dept shakes off ransomware attack

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Justice and constitutional development minister Ronald Lamola.
Justice and constitutional development minister Ronald Lamola.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DJCD) says it is progressing well in recovering from last month’s ransomware attack.

The department announced yesterday that several online services have since been reactivated in a safe and secure manner.

It said considerable progress has been made in restoring the Integrated Case Management System, an administrative system used at all courts, particularly the office of the Master of the High Court.

“Parts of the system are already accessible, such as curatorship, and the online portals used for historic searches,” said the department.

The DJCD, which is headed by minister Ronald Lamola, has been working with state agencies since the attack, to investigate the matter, which crippled its IT systems and some services.

At least 1 200 files containing the names, banking details and contact details of those who have submitted personal information to the department were reportedly compromised during a ransomware attack on the department’s IT systems in September.

Yesterday, the DJCD said: “The department has strengthened security measures to protect sensitive personal information under its custodianship. Measures include upgrading our ICT security infrastructure and ensuring more stringent electronic and physical access control.

“Over the past few weeks, the team of departmental officials, industry specialists and advisors from organs of state have successfully contained the spread of the malware. A number of online services have been reactivated in a safe and secure manner.

“The team has also focused on ensuring the payment of child maintenance money to beneficiaries is disrupted as little as possible.

“Another critical area that has been given high priority is the electronic recording of court proceedings to ensure courts are able to operate as normal. Most of the recordings are intact, and able to sync back to the central repository.”

The department said where courts are still experiencing challenges, “a special capacity has been deployed to attend to queries on a case-by-case basis. The web portal that is used by transcribers to download court recordings for transcription purposes was successfully restored.”

The DJCD noted that more work will be done in the next few days to complete the process of bringing back online functionality in respect of trusts, deceased estates and insolvencies.

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