The ransomware attack on City Power Johannesburg is just another warning to South Africa's Government and corporates that they are not immune to cyberattacks. This latest attack caused blackouts across the city as cyber criminals took control of the City Power Johannesburg's network and systems which prevented residents from purchasing electricity.

This should serve as a warning to other service providers that ransomware could easily debilitate a city. Depending on severity of the attack, it could take days, weeks or months to recover critical data.

Cities becoming ransomware targets

Cities seem to be a preferred target for ransomware nowadays. They are often paying criminals millions to recover encrypted critical data in order to quickly restore their services.

Hackers are working to gain secure data all the time, it doesn't matter what industry. Cybersecurity is a money making business and will continue to grow. Everybody is a target and it also doesn't matter the size of the business.

It is highly recommended that one never pays the ransom because even if one does, there is no guarantee that you will get your information back. Regardless, one will have to set up a new system and restore the files that were encrypted. Also remember, with ransomware, the first thing hackers aim to do is to delete backups if they are not segmented from the network.

Impact of a cyberattack on business

Business leaders need to fully understand what impact a cyberattack can have on services and the people who rely on that data. They need to accept that it is going to happen and must focus their attention on how to recover, how to minimise the damage and how to get the system up and running as fast as possible.

Every single recovery method will already be anticipated by the hackers. Although data theft could cause huge damage, there are other threats like ransomware that are more likely and would have a profound effect on any company. Businesses need to assess the kind of attacks that are most probable to hit their networks.

To start, businesses need to plan ahead for possible attacks and have secure strategies for business continuity and incident response. They will need to identify a team with each staff member having a designated role in case of an attack.

Cities seem to be a preferred target for ransomware nowadays. They are often paying criminals millions to recover encrypted critical data

The company needs to ensure it can totally recover all systems and not just the data. Data recovery is normally easy when done correctly, but recovering an entire system will take some time. Even with a complete backup, one still needs to establish how to recover that data.

There are third-party companies that can provide backup solutions through the cloud. Having the security of those backups as part of one's strategy is imperative. Businesses just need to ensure that they can restore or rebuild their system and be confident that they have what is required to do so

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