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Liberty Holding hit by cyberattack

Cyber attack in South AfricaSouth African insurer Liberty Holdings said it was the victim of a cyberattack after an external party claimed to have seized data from the firm and demanded payment.

Liberty, in which Standard Bank has a 53% stake, was alerted of the illegal unauthorised access to its IT infrastructure late on Thursday, group Chief Executive David Munro said at a press briefing.

Liberty engaged with external parties involved to determine their intention, but made no concessions “in the face of attempted extortion,” Munro said.

As part of an ongoing investigation, Liberty identified and addressed specific vulnerabilities its IT infrastructure may have had to secure customer data, he said. The insurer alerted relevant authorities.

“Liberty is at an advanced stage of investigating the extent of the data breach, which seems to be largely emails and possibly attachments,” said Munro.

“To be clear, at this stage there is no evidence any customers have suffered any financial losses.”

He said no further action was required from Liberty’s customers at present and the insurer would inform customers directly if it was discovered they may have been impacted.

Liberty is in the middle of a turnaround plan that includes greater focus on higher margin products and slower offshore expansion under Munro, who took the reins almost a year ago.

Liberty, which competes with larger Sanlam and Discovery, lagged rivals operationally and on the stock market over the last three years as a weak economy and high interest rates in South Africa hit disposable incomes.