Liberty Life system falls victim to cyber attack
Insurance giant Liberty Life's IT system on Saturday came under attack from unknown hackers, who reportedly obtained sensitive data about some of the insurer's top clients.
Sources with intimate knowledge of what might be an embarrassing corporate scandal claim the hackers had demanded payment of millions of rand, failing which they had threatened to start releasing some of the information in their possession to the public.
Liberty Life executives held an urgent meeting on Saturday to try to establish how far the hackers had gone into the company's system and how the breach had occurred.
"Liberty IT personnel are running around like headless chickens trying to figure out how much data was accessed, and they can't explain to their bosses how they were hacked," one source said.Another source claimed: "Liberty executives are busy engaging the hackers and are willing to pay them off, instead of getting their clients' personal information splashed all over the internet."
Liberty spokesman Sydney Mbhele on Saturday night confirmed the hacking incident.
"Liberty regrets to confirm that it has been subject to unauthorised access to its IT infrastructure. An external party claims to have seized data from us, has alerted us to potential vulnerabilities in our systems, and has requested compensation for this.
"Since becoming aware, we have taken immediate steps to secure our computer systems," Mbhele said.
Liberty was investigating the breach and would keep stakeholders informed.
"We are working hard to rectify the situation," he added.
Mbhele also confirmed that the company was communicating with the hackers, but he could not elaborate how or whether the police had been alerted.
"First of all we need to establish whether the hackers' claims are true or they are just bluffing," he told the Sunday Times.
He said Liberty would release a detailed statement on Sunday to clarify the matter.