Hawks investigating City of Joburg billing security issue

The Police’s Hawks commercial crimes unit is investigating the recent City of Joburg website security issue which exposed its ratepayers’ personal information. This followed the City of Joburg’s decision to open a criminal case against “a suspected perpetrator”.

The security flaw was reported online on Tuesday, 20 August 2013, by concerned citizen Gerd Naschenweng after he unsuccessfully tried to notify the city directly about the problem.

Richard Nene, the City of Joburg’s director of group and services IT division, initially said that it was a good thing that the security flaw was highlighted and passed on to the media by a concerned citizen.

Nene confirmed that they were not aware of the security flaw, and that the report helped them to identify the problem and work on protecting their residents’ information.

However, the city changed tact soon afterwards and started to call the incident a malicious hack.

On Monday 26 August 2013 the City of Joburg said that it has opened a criminal case at the Hillbrow police station against a suspected perpetrator.

“Residents can be assured that necessary technical steps and legal remedies are being taken to prevent recurrence of similar incidents in future,” the City of Joburg said.

This case has found its way to the Hawks, and Naschenweng confirmed that the Hawks contacted him this morning (4 September 2013) to investigate the case further.

Naschenweng said that he is not certain whether he is personally investigated or whether it is merely part of a larger investigation.

Initial indications are, however, that there is not a wider investigation into other people who accessed the files.

Hawks spokesperson Paul Ramaloko confirmed that they are investigating the City of Joburg case, but said that it is too early to give details on potential outcomes.

The City of Joburg could not immediately be reached for comment. The city also did not respond to previous requests for information about the case.

More on the City of Joburg security issue

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Joburg security whistleblower responds

City of Joburg opens criminal case against “hacker”

True story behind Joburg’s online security problems

Massive security flaw exposes Joburg residents’ private info

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Hawks investigating City of Joburg billing security issue