Companies doing business with Transnet suffered major setbacks following a cyber attack on the parastatal.

The attack resulted in disruptions of normal processes and functions of the state-owned entity, affecting the Durban, Ngqura, Gqeberha and Cape Town harbours.

Some companies have implemented stringent measures to cope with the disruption, including short time whilst others are contemplating temporary shut-downs. Investigators are currently determining the exact source of the cause of compromise and extent of the ICT data security breach or sabotage.

Transnet says significant progress has been made in restoring its IT systems after the attack last week.

The Group Manager for Corporate Affairs at Transnet, Ayanda Shezi, says it is expected that some applications may continue to run slowly over the next few days.

“By the end of yesterday we had managed to have most the applications  up. The  systems are going to be brought back up in a staggered manner so that we minimise any further risks and interruptions. It should also be  expected that some of the application should continue to run slowly over the next few days while our cyber experts continue to monitor them. We expect that the force majeure that was declared by our port terminals division, which covers the period  from the 27th of July will be lifted soon,” adds Shezi.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber says the attack came at the time while some businesses were still recovering from the unrest in the country that led to destruction of property and looting of businesses.

The CEO of Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Denise van Huyssteen, says some businesses had to put some of their employees on short time.

“Well, we understand that there has been some level of resolution to this very serious disruption. The vessels are currently moving too. Slowly, the cyber attack on top of the disruptions caused, by the recent unrest in the country coupled with the current water crisis. Make it exceptionally difficult for business to operate. We need an enabling environment in place. We need the basics to work if we want to retain and attract investors,” says Van Huyssteen.

Operations at the Durban harbour were already hit during the violence and looting two weeks ago. The shipping line, the Mediterranean Shipping Company, commended Transnet for the hard work in restoring operations. The Director of Operations at MSC, Captain Ian Rosario, says they had to find other means to continue with operations.

“Even during this crucial period when networks were down, the terminals used manual interventions and other intervention means to cater to the urgent requirement of the wider industry. Of course the operations did slow down and businesses across a wide spectrum were impacted, exports out of the country, most specifically the RIFA exports. The imports of the country were impacted, the automobile industry but I suppose given the situation this would’ve been unavoidable,” adds Rosario.

One of the multi-national companies affected by the port disruptions is Bridgestone tyres. The company is experiencing a shortage of raw materials and is anticipating a seven day shutdown.