Why regulator wants answers from South African insurer Liberty following cyber attack

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Insurer Liberty Holdings faced questions from South Africa’s Information Regulator on Monday, a day after the company said it had become the victim of a cyber attack.

The regulator said it was concerned about the data breach and wanted to meet the insurer to get more details.

Liberty’s shares fell 5 percent on Monday, after the company said on Sunday that an external party claimed to have seized data from the firm and demanded payment.

Liberty said it made no concessions to the hackers and that there was no evidence that any of its customers had suffered any financial losses.

On Monday it said its IT specialists and security personnel had worked around the clock to ensure the protection of its customers and their details.

The regulator said it had written to Liberty’s Chief Executive David Munro requesting information on the extent of the data breach and security measures taken by the company.

“The Information Regulator has noted with concern various media reports regarding a material data breach at Liberty Holdings,” Pansy Tlakula, chairwoman of the regulator, said in a statement.

Shares in Liberty later pared some losses but still closed 4.03 percent lower at 119 rand, their worst daily fall since April 4.

Traders said the market had not panicked over the attack.

“The management did very well to come out and explain their side of the story,” said Cratos Capital trader Greg Davies.

“What they need to do now is assure the market that they’ve spent enough on their defences and that there won’t be a repeat of this.”

Liberty’s biggest shareholder Standard Bank, which has a 53 percent stake, said in an emailed response to questions it was supportive of the measures that Liberty has taken.

However, in neighbouring Namibia, Marieta le Roux, a Liberty Life client since 2011, told Reuters that she had not been informed of the data breach.

“I feel exposed because they have a lot of confidential information about me,” she said.

Additional reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa in Windhoek; Editing by James Macharia and Susan Fenton

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