The ongoing cyber-attacks on web and social sites operated by the government, the military and top leaders is part of an effort to expose corruption in Kenya, a ‘hacktivist’ group has claimed.
A member of hacker group Anonymous on Friday told Radio France International (RFI) that they infiltrated Twitter accounts belonging to Kenya Defence Forces and defaced several government websites after unnamed anti-corruption crusaders ‘cried for help’.
In its latest attack, the cell Anon_0x03 on Friday cracked, took control and used Deputy President William Ruto’s verified Twitter account to tweet a list of government websites it had hacked.
“Someone asked for help and we work for people across the world,” a member of the Latin American-based Anonymous cell told RFI’s English service, adding that they “feel that there is a lot of corruption,” but people “don’t pay attention to Africa”.
Other government websites hacked this week are Immigration and Registration of Persons, National Environment Trust Fund and Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), which contains sensitive financial data.
IFMIS interlinks government planning, budgeting, expenditure management and control, accounting, audit and reporting to curb misuse of funds and corruption.
‘KENYA IS A GOOD TARGET’
In the interview with RFI, the Anonymous member warned of more attacks, saying “Kenya is a good target”.
The frequency and cases of hacking web and social sites operated by state agencies and leaders have increased since January 2012 when an Indonesian hacker called direxer took down 103 sites.
More than 10 government websites have been hit since then, including those operated by the Central Bank of Kenya (July 2013), the Attorney-General’s Office (April 2013) and the Transport ministry (March 2014).
Kenya Police suffered several attacks in 2011 while the Treasury website (ww.treasury.go.ke) was hacked by ReisBEY Muslim Turkish Hacker in November 2010.
While the hackers have not been expressly stating the reasons behind their nefarious campaigns, a look at their posts on the affected sites gives clues about their motivations.
After infiltrating KDF Twitter account on Monday, for instance, Anon_0x03 posted: “#cartels run Kenya, #sugar, #insecurityKE, #corruptionKE, #ivorytraffickingKE, #rhinopoachingKE”.
The hashtags confirm the Anonymous member’s claim that they were backing the fight of unnamed anti-corruption campaigners.
Runaway insecurity, the rot in the sugar sector and the slaughter of elephants and rhinos for ivory have all been linked to rank corruption in government. Some ivory hauls seized at the port of Mombasa and Jomo Kenyatta airport have been linked to powerful people in the current and former regimes.
The hackers also, saying the hacking was “war”. It added that “violence produces violence” and faulted seemed to warn Kenya and KDF over the ongoing military campaign against terror in Somalia KDF for “spending money on AK47s”— messages that ran alongside images of hungry-looking children.
Gaza Hacker Team, which attacked CBK website on July 22, 2013 had a similar message: “But all your interests and your citizens in all parts of the world will be our legitimate targets! So, if you want the safety of yourselves, possessions and interests from our revenge, depart all soldiers from our land”.
Anonymous has also been supporting political dissidents in various parts of the world, including the Arab spring that rocked African countries like Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The group helped protesters to hack government websites while protecting theirs from surveillance by state security agencies.
However, some attacks seem to be driven by the ultimate prize for all enterprising hackers— money. The attacks on Central Bank of Kenya, IFMIS and The Treasury point to that direction.
UNSECURED INTERNET PROTOCOLS
The Department of Defence, which is in charge of KDF operations, is believed to be one of the victims of hackers. The department is believed to have lost billions of shillings it was transferring to Ukrainian arm dealers over unsecured internet protocols (http) in 2008.
The hitherto unknown number of billions were intercepted by Russian hackers never to be recovered.
Attacks on Kenya have been increasing in the recent times as they reduce globally, according to statistics from Zone H— a site that tracks defacement attacks against websites.
Last year, the site recorded a 200,000 drop in the attacks from 1.6 million in 2012. This year, 600,000 cases have been recorded so far.
Besides Anonymous, other notorious hacker groups are Milworm, Masters of Deception, LulzSec, Network Crack Program Hacker Group,TeaMp0isoN, globalHell, The Level Seven Crew, Global KOS and Chaos Computer Club.
Hackers are loved and loathed in equal measure, global trends show.
While dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyber-attacks in the US, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey, for instance, TIME magazine listed the group as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.