Earlier in the week, the container operations at the South African port of Cape Town were disrupted by a cyber attack, with the Durban and Port Elizabeth terminals affected as well. This resulted in a halting of all cargo movements as Transnet worked ceaselessly to get its systems back online.
Transnet itself would not comment or confirm that a cyber-attack had occurred, but sources said that the attack had caused major disruptions to Transnet ports as well as national freight rails, this following the days of unrest and violence experienced in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. A government official merely stated that an investigation is under way to determine what had caused the disruptions, after which an announcement will be made to confirm or dispel the theory.
Impact of the alleged Cyber-attack and potential causes
It is still unclear whether the alleged cyber-attack on Transnet was in connection with the riots experienced in parts of the country. However, the latest disruption has caused havoc as containers and auto parts have been delayed.
Transnet reported that its container terminals experienced disruption while the freight rails, pipelines, engineering, and property divisions reported normal activity. The customer-facing function, the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is currently not operational yet, but there are mitigation plans implemented for business continuity.
These disruptions have resulted in further setbacks for South Africa’s economy while trying to recover from the deadly riots and while battling the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. For now, all operations at ports have been restored, ensuring that South Africa’s supply chain and logistic system can run smoothly, with remaining systems are being restored in a staggered manner to minimise any further risks or interruptions.
While the cyberattack has wreaked havoc, neither Transnet nor customer data has been compromised.