When Your ISP Gets Hacked

Jacques du Rand 2023-03-06

In today’s internet driven world hacking comes part and parcel of life.

Hackers use any small discrepancy in your website code to try and find what is typically referred to as a backdoor. This is more frequently exploited with global platforms such as WordPress that, if not well maintained, can be exploited due to its code structure being openly available.

This is not only a vulnerability of the WordPress platform, but for any platform, tool, website, system or server used at large. (Remember the Zoom vulnerability? )

The most recent incident where a top South African ISP was affected by a global ransomware attack is not an outlying event. Unfortunately an attack on an ISP can have larger repercussions such as the case in this instance where numerous users were left without internet access for more than a week and many well known websites hosted with them were offline too.

Various Levels Of Cyber Attacks

There are various levels of cyber attacks with some being more serious than others. Sometimes it is malicious where hackers may go as far as asking for money to restore systems. This is known as a “ransomware” attack.  Sometimes hackers just want to prove a point which may have been the case in this particular instance.  

The recent ransomware attack was not limited to South Africa, but showed just how many servers around the world were still unpatched to a known vulnerability.

If attackers want to be truly malicious they can take things a step further and also steal customer data. Thankfully in this case they did not.

Tips To Keep Your Information Safe & Stay Online

Although you won’t be able to control which of the entities you have any services with gets hacked, there are some things you can put into action to keep your data as safe as possible.

  1. Multiple Passwords - Don’t use the same password on all of your internet service log-ins. We know this is a huge mission, but there are a bunch of great password manager apps that can help you if that is your biggest problem. This helps to prevent more of your data being stolen should hackers get their hands on any of your personal data through an attack.
  1. Immediate Action - If you receive any notification that any of your accounts may have been compromised take immediate action to change any shared passwords, remove any personal data from that platform, or make sure that if any financial information (or cards) was leaked that they can’t be accessed by for example temporarily deactivating them.
  1. Safer Web Browsing - Keep your own computer from being exposed by adding VPN software to your computer and mobile. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) keep your browsing data safe by masking your actual computer address and location - two things hackers can use to exploit your information.
  1. ISP Failover Plan - As with load-shedding and having backup power through batteries, generators or solar it is good to have a failover plan in case of ISP downtime. This especially if you are a business. The easiest way to do this is to either:
    • Use mobile data - this is a super quick fix, but not ideal in the long run as running long-term internet usage and watching videos will burn through your data in minutes.
    • LTE backup - A better solution is to have an LTE backup internet solution. This of course only works if your ISP on your LTE is different to your fixed fibre ISP provider. Very quick to set-up should your main ISP have any downtime and can be running in minutes. Packages on LTE can also be bought month-to-month.

Cyber attacks are unfortunately here to stay, so make sure that you keep your personal data as safe as possible.