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Hackers hit government websites

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A number of government websites were hacked this week and at this stage it is unclear when they will be up and running again.

File picture: Jenny Kane/AP

Durban – A number of government websites were hacked this week and at this stage it is unclear when they will be up and running again.

The Department of Economic Development and Tourism in Mpumalanga and the Department of Higher Education’s websites were affected as well as the National Consumer Commission (NCC) website.

According to data analyst Bryan Turner from World Wide Worx, the reasons behind this could be monetary gain as hackers sometimes demanded money to leave the site up and running.

On Tuesday, the NCC website had a message on it from Ghostsquad hackers instead of its normal home page.

Turner said: “An international scholarship from the Department of Higher Education was hacked and the hackers took down the staffing division of the same site. These were the same hackers who took down the NCC website.”

He said that hackers regularly took down websites that had weak internet security to show their dominance.

The message with a picture of a Guy Fawkes mask on the NCC website read: “Powned by Slege, Greetz to all #GSH members”. By late Tuesday this message was removed but the NCC site was still not running.

Instead it had an error message which said that the requested URL could not be reached.

In an emailed response, spokesperson Phetho Ntaba said the NCC was aware of the hacking incident.

She said the impact of the hack meant that consumers and businesses could not access the website.

“The hosting company (Sita) is investigating the matter and will get back to us with findings,” she said.

When Ntaba was asked when the site would be functional, she said they would only know after Sita concluded its investigations.

Last October, two separate groups of hackers threatened to shut down the finance sector and local government at a time when South Africans would be paying municipal bills, gaining access to their bank accounts.

It is unclear whether these hackers were apprehended.

Daily News