US claims South Africa targeted in Russia’s global hack attack campaigns

South Africa has been named as one of 135 countries the US claims have been targeted in a hacking campaign by Russian employees.

The campaign is alleged to have targeted energy companies and critical infrastructure according to the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They claimed the campaign would enable “the Russian government to disrupt and damage such systems, if it wished”.

South Africa’s state-owned electricity utility Eskom also spoke out in response to questions on whether Russian hackers targeted it, but they did not refer to Russia. They said: “Eskom, like every other organisation, combat[s] regular attempted attacks.

“We are aware that, daily, cybercriminals are actively targeting various sectors, including ours. We have an information and cybersecurity team and tools that assist us with combatting attempted attacks and for security reasons will not share the details of these.”

The Mineral Resources and Energy ministry, as well as PetroSA, did not respond to similar queries from news publication DM168. Neither did the Russian embassy in South Africa.

Details of Russia’s alleged energy sector cyberattacks are surfacing as South Africa has taken a rather neutral stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In early March, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was hoped that negotiations would bring about peace.

In a previous statement that focused on 30 years of diplomatic ties with South Africa, stretching back to 1992, the Russian embassy had glowing words.

It said: “Our countries have been walking together on the path of mutual understanding, respect and friendship… With the rich history of bilateral ties that we already have, we are ready to expand this legacy further, and explore new ways and areas of cooperation for the benefit of our nations.”

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