South Africa’s financial services giant, Liberty, has been hit by ransom seeking hackers who are reported to be demanding millions of rands and are threatening to release the company’s sensitive data to the public if their ransom is not met.
A visit to Liberty’s website yielded the following message: “Liberty regrets to confirm that it has been subjected to unauthorised access to its IT infrastructure.”
The pop up message added that “An external party claims to have seized data from us, has alerted us to potential vulnerabilities in our systems and has requested compensation for this.
“Since becoming aware, we have taken immediate steps to secure our computer systems. Liberty is investigating the breach and we will endeavour to keep all stakeholders fully informed as appropriate. We are working hard to rectify the situation,” said the group.
This attack may have implications for millions of Liberty’s clients whose personal information may be compromised. Liberty runs with R720 billion in assets under management. The 60 years old operation has a presence in 18 African countries. Its grown from a South African life insurer to a pan-African financial services company, offering asset management, investment, insurance and health products to 3.2 million people across Africa.
Liberty has a close relationship, resulting from a historical cross-shareholding with Standard Bank. But the two operations are run separately and on different systems.
Typically, hits like this result in the release of clients data which can be harvested by criminals to target individuals with fraudulent activity.