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Department of Justice in total disarray after ransomware attack

On the morning of 5 September 2021, the Department of Justice (DoJ) fell victim to a ransomware attack resulting in the encryption of all its Information Technology (IT) systems. In short, ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom (money/bitcoin) from the victim to restore access to the files upon payment. This attack led to a massive crisis, triggering major disruptions to all divisions including the Master’s Web Portal used by thousands of individuals. Since so many legal firms, minor children and other individuals rely on the successful operation of the DoJ, the ripple effect of the incident caused total havoc throughout the country, especially when everything came to an abrupt standstill.  

At the time or writing all electronic services provided by the Master’s Office are still offline. These include the issuing of letters of authority, letters of executorship, bail services and access to e-mails to name a few. Since the IT systems aren’t functioning properly, the Master’s Office is now forced to operate manually, causing further delays in critical areas such as deceased estates, trusts and child maintenance payments. This is exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown regulations already significantly slowing down the services rendered by the Master’s Office.

It is imperative for the Master’s Office to function efficiently and effectively to ensure that no one gets stuck in a never-ending judicial administrative process. In a recent media release by the DoJ, the department assured the public that their IT experts have been working around the clock to restore services and that successful measures had been put in place to recover from the attack. Even though there is some light at the end of the tunnel, the DoJ still can’t give the public an indication of when the systems will be back online. This paints a troubling and worrisome picture for the next few months leading into 2022, especially with regards to the backlogs already shooting through the roof. Nevertheless, we are positive that everything will be back on track soon so that business can resume as usual.

Our fiduciary team at BVSA Konsult has decades of experience in estate- and trust administration and is professionally equipped to assist you with any matters related to or in connection therewith. Please contact any of our fiduciary/financial practitioners/advisors for a quote and expert advice.

Reghardt Draper FPSA®
Adv Dip ETA (UFS), LLB, LLM (NWU), PG Dip FP
reghardt@bvsa.co.za

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