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TransUnion Confirms Data Breach at South Africa Business

Credit reporting giant TransUnion has confirmed a data breach affecting its South Africa business. The company appears to have been targeted by profit-driven cybercriminals.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the company said cybercriminals gained access to a TransUnion South Africa server using a client’s credentials. The affected client’s access was suspended after the breach was discovered and some services have been taken offline.

The company believes only an “isolated server holding limited data” from its South African business was compromised.

A group that reportedly claims to be operating out of Brazil has taken credit for the attack.

South African technology news website MyBroadband spoke to the attackers, who claim to have stolen 4Gb of files, including the information of 54 million South African individuals.

While South Africa has a population of nearly 60 million — this would make the hackers’ claim seem legitimate — TransUnion says on its Facebook page that it “maintains credit data on more than 24 million credit active South Africans.”

The hackers, calling themselves N4ughtysecTU, claim to have demanded a $15 million ransom. TransUnion has confirmed the extortion attempt, but the company says it will not pay up.

It’s unclear if the attack involved any file-encrypting ransomware or if the cybercriminals are trying to make a profit only by stealing data and threatening to make it public.

The hackers claim to have breached the systems of several global companies, including financial institutions and major automotive firms.

If confirmed, this would be the second Brazilian group targeting major organizations. A gang calling itself Lapsus$ has taken credit for attacks on NVIDIA, Samsung, Ubisoft and Vodafone, in most cases claiming to have stolen source code.

Related: University Project Cataloged 1,100 Ransomware Attacks on Critical Infrastructure

Related: Car Parts Giant Denso Targeted by Ransomware Group

Related: Ransomware Gang Threatens to Leak Files Stolen From Tire Giant Bridgestone

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.