South Africa’s port division and rail operator Transnet is confirmed to have declared force majeure across all its container terminals after suffering a debilitating ransomware cyber attack last week.
The Daily Maverick reports that Transnet declared the contractual clause to absolve itself of any liability for not being able to provide promised services to its clients. The force majeure clause is usually reserved for “acts of God” or events that were completely unexpected and unprepared for, such as natural disasters, warfare or in this case a cyber attack.
Transnet is yet to name the source of the cyber attack. The state firm has also not released any information on whether or not a ransom has been demanded or how deep the infiltration of sensitive information goes.
Last week, eNCA reporter Sli Masikane shared some information about the attack, including internal communications from Transnet to its employees and an apparent ransom letter from the attackers.
BREAKING #TransnetHack I’ve been reliably informed that Transnet systems have been hacked. All employees received this communication to shutdown all laptop and desktops and not to not access their emails. #eNCA pic.twitter.com/BavupKGMoV
— Sli Masikane (@Sli_Masikane) July 22, 2021
The attack has been particularly crippling to Transnet’s port divisions, which are currently unable to digitally track and account for thousands of goods containers that enter and leave South Africa’s ports on a daily basis. These operations must now be made manually, which has resulted in long delays.
Transnet’s port division handles imports and exports of cars, goods containers, bulk and breakbulk such as manufacturing and construction equipment. The company also handles fresh produce and raw minerals like platinum, manganese and gold.
Transnet Promises Salaries Won’t Be Affected
In an internal email sent to employees on Monday, Transnet said the attack against its systems was ‘unprecedented’ and that it had brought the company to a standstill. The email also said that all non-operational employees would be required to take leave from Monday until Thursday.
“At this juncture, no employee is allowed to access Transnet’s network, E-mail or [Microsoft] Teams applications, or any other systems like SAP HCM, where all employee data is stored and maintained and the platform that we use to pay our employees,” read the email sent by Transent’s HR division.
“As it stands, we have been working relentlessly to ensure that our employees will be paid on Tuesday, 27 July 2021, and to get our systems functioning again.”