The Hawks on Thursday confirmed that they were investigating an alleged “masterdeeds” data breach which exposed the personal information of millions of South Africans.
Spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Malaudzi said in a statement that acting Hawks head Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata had instructed “that investigators spare no effort in their probe and in enforcing the law to the fullest extent against anyone who is found to be at fault”.
“The Hawks typically do not comment on ongoing investigations. However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, the Hawks are collaborating with other law enforcement agencies and stakeholders investigating the data breach, ” Malaudzi said.
While the Hawks would not discuss the scope of the investigation, Malaudzi confirmed it would be the Hawks’ Cybercrime Unit that would be leading the investigation.
The personal information of millions of South Africans has apparently been leaked online.
This is according to Troy Hunt, Australian security researcher and creator of the free service Have I Been Pwned.
His website allows people to check if their personal information has been compromised in a data breach.
Hunt reportedly took to Twitter on Tuesday to say he had “a very large breach titled ‘masterdeeds'”.
If the information Hunt has is legitimate, it may be the biggest breach of the Protection of Personal Information Act ever to have taken place.
The database is said to have the names of people, their gender, ethnicity, home ownership and contact details.
The information also includes identity numbers and details of employers.