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Ransomware attack causes black out in Johannesburg, South Africa

A major electricity supplier in South Africa’s largest city has suffered a ransomware attack, leaving some residents without power.

City Power revealed last week that its IT systems had been shut down. “It has encrypted all our databases, applications and network,” the company tweeted, referring to the virus.

City Power’s website remains offline and residents have reported problems via social media with their electricity supplies.

According to BBC, the ransomware attack initially affected customers’ ability to buy pre-paid electricity and also hampered the firm’s efforts to respond to localised blackouts.

A spokesman for City Power told the BBC that more than a quarter of a million people might have been affected. “These are the people on the pre-paid system[s] and would at any given day buy electricity,” he said.

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects computers and encrypts or locks files and systems.

The City of Johannesburg, which owns the electricity company, said that most IT systems had now been restored.

However, city officials acknowledged that there were still problems and said customers could log faults on an alternative website. “Customers should not panic as none of their details were compromised,” read a tweet posted by the city’s official Twitter account.

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Attackers say they will restore access once payment is made but there is no guarantee that they will do so.

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