In recent weeks, Johannesburg’s computer network was held for ransom by a hacker group called Shadow Kill Hackers. This was the second time in three months a ransomware attack has hit South Africa’s largest city. This time, however, hackers didn’t pose the usual threat.
Rather than denying the city access to its data, the standard blackmail in a ransomware attack, they threatened to publish it online. This style of attack, known as leakware, allows hackers to target more victims in a single attack – in this case the city’s citizens.
The latest Johannesburg attack was the second leakware attack of this type ever recorded, and a similar attack could hit Australia soon. And although our current cyberattack defences are more advanced than many countries, we could be taken by surprise because of the unique way leakware operates.
A new plan of attack
During the Johannesburg attack, city employees received a computer message saying hackers had “compromised all passwords and sensitive data such as finance and personal population information”. In exchange for not uploading the stolen data online, destroying it and revealing how they executed the breach, the hackers demanded four bitcoins (worth about A$52,663) - “a small amount of money” for a vast city council, they said.
Read the full piece at The Conversation.