South Africa: Note to Transnet - Cyberattacks Only Work When There Are Vulnerabilities to Exploit


Having just survived week-long riots and looting, Transnet's ports have been shut down by 'an act of cyberattack, security intrusion and sabotage'. But the rail, port and pipeline company won't tell us exactly what happened.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

This year's traffic jam in the Suez Canal seemed like the biggest maritime news of the year - until Transnet's ports were hacked this month, causing it to declare force majeure.

The words "force majeure" are like a magic potion in the world of insurable commerce - when to invoke this clause is akin to Asterix and Obelix drinking a superhuman-strength-inducing magic potion and facing off a patrol of hostile Roman soldiers.

It is a get-out-of-jail-free card in the ultimate sense of the phrase.

Essentially, force majeure is a legal way of encoding the previously archaic and indefinable concept of an "act of God". This means that, even if you are an atheist who believes in physics and gravity, you are still legally bound by this old-fashioned homage to an indescribable storm, earthquake, typhoon, lightning strike or other "act of God".

Even stranger, this weird compulsion of the Great Invisible Friend in the Sky to intervene...

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