SA Civil Aviation Authority launches investigation into possible cyber hack

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has launched an internal investigation after it noticed that some of its information communication technology (ICT) systems did not launch and operate normally on July 1.

According to its website, SACAA is a stand-alone authority mandated with controlling, promoting, regulating, supporting, developing, enforcing and continuously improving levels of safety and security throughout the civil aviation industry.

SACAA spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba told Fin24 on Monday that, on closer inspection by its ICT personnel, it was noted that some files had suspicious characteristics, which are regarded as anomalies from an ICT perspective. Upon conducting a preliminary investigation, it was decided that some servers should be disconnected from the network in order to address these anomalies.
 
He explained that, as a rule, the SACAA's management does not take matters such as this lightly. An internal investigation was, therefore, launched.

In addition, as required by law, the SACAA notified all the relevant state security authorities about the matter for their consideration, analysis, and possible investigation.

"It is only after the conclusion of the current ongoing investigation that we will know, with absolute certainty, if indeed there was an individual or individuals that may have deliberately attempted to disrupt the SACAA's services," commented Ledwaba.

"Management took a precautionary decision not to restore some information communication technology services to ensure that proper investigations are conducted, and all anomalies addressed."

According to Ledwaba, SACAA can confirm that the situation is under control and services are continuing normally. However, some of the services are now being offered manually, and, therefore, a bit slower than usual.

"It must be emphasised that the perception that there is a total shutdown of services is absolutely not true. Moreover, the decision to shut down the servers has no bearing on the SACAA's ability to oversee a safe and secure air transport network," emphasised Ledwaba.
 
"Preliminary indications are that the data has not been negatively affected and the SACAA has business continuity plans which include multiple back-ups. As soon as it is deemed safe to restore all servers, our customers and all stakeholders will be notified."
 
Tests are currently being conducted in this regard.

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