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Cyberattack leaves South African power utility customers in the dark

On Thursday, City Power reported that its system was hijacked by a Ransomware virus leaving customers unable to access the utility’s website or purchase prepaid electricity units from vendors.  

A computer virus, which hit City Power on Wednesday resulted in a blackout to its internet technology system, leaving scores of Johannesburg residents unable to purchase electricity, as their kilowatts approach 0.00, reported News24.

The power utility’s spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the virus had attacked its database and other software and affected most of the utility’s applications and networks.

The virus also prevented those who had already bought their prepaid electricity from uploading the units to their meter boxes.

The virus has also affected City Power’s website leaving customers unable to access the site for information.

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City Power working round the clock

“It may also affect our response to some outages, as the system to order and dispatch material is affected. City Power IT team has been working since early [yesterday] morning 01:00 to fix this problem,” Mangena said.

On Wednesday, the utility announced that it was experiencing capacity constraints due to the cold weather in Johannesburg.

Mangena said cold weather conditions could result in unplanned outages, as the electrical system experienced overloading when demand increased.

He said plans were in place to deal with unplanned outages. The key focus of the plan was to attend to those areas that experienced repeated unplanned outages on the same day or week.

“We have also increased the number of technicians in areas that are prone to repeated unplanned power outages.

“More teams have been put on standby so that they can be dispatched to attend to outages and respond to emergency calls,” he said.

City Power has urged customers to use electricity sparingly during this time.

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Source: News24. Edited by ESI Africa

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.