The South African State Security Agency has launched an investigation into Buffalo City Metro’s website hacking that shocked a number of users on Wednesday night after gruesome pictures of children killings were put up.
The images of children killings were spread across the BCM website home page where users normally find information relating to tenders, vacancies, tourism and other ratepayer-related information.
Although the problem has since been fixed by BCM’s information and communication technology (ICT) unit, BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the State Security was busy investigating the matter.
He said the metro had also launched its own internal investigation to probe how the hacking happened.
According to the information on the web, the site was “hacked by Team System Dz”. The message was directed to “the government, the American people and the rest of the world”.
Relating to the gruesome images some of which showed a child with a head chopped off and another buried under rubble the hackers wrote: “Is this the humanity that you claim, or is life irrelevant to Muslims? Do not imagine that these actions against the Muslims will pass you and we will forget what you did to the Arab and Muslim peoples all over the world.”
The signature of the e-mail read: “I love Islamic state.”
Asked if BCM did not have measures to prevent such incidents from happening, Ngwenya said: ‘We are dealing with professional hackers here. It is their job to bypass measures, we are busy investigating the how part. This is a global issue and could be driven from a global point of view that is why the State Security is now involved.”
He said BCM was not ruling out the possibility that the message was directed to them.
“We were compromised as the government. Our users were affected by the disturbing images, the inconvenience of not finding the information they were looking for. Our website is also child-friendly and there is a possibility that they were exposed to that content. Fortunately we did not lose any content on the site,” Ngwenya said.
BCM mayor Xola Pakati said he was shocked when he found the website hacked on Wednesday night while searching for someone’s contact number.
“I noticed the hacking around 8pm and I immediately called our corporate service head Bob Naidoo and informed him about the hacking. I was shocked to see the images but also the message from Isis shocked me. I think we were mistaken for another Buffalo City municipality that is in America and the message was directed to the American government,” said Pakati said.
He admitted that the metro’s server system was not strong enough to deal with professional hackers.
“The city manager Andile Sihlahla is attending to the matter. This affected our whole system, our users could not access the website. Our IT team worked throughout the night trying to fix the problem, we clearly need to jerk up our system. The website is fixed now, it was fixed in the early hours of this morning,” said Pakati.