Cyberattack in Kenya impacts online government platforms

Anonymous Sudan claim responsibility for an extensive cyberattack in Kenya which saw multiple government services impacted and raised digital concerns

Last week, Kenya endured a huge cyber attack that has affected services on a key government online platform.

The BBC reported on a cyber-attack against the region’s eCitizen portal used by the public to access over 5,000 government services. Impacted were passport applications and renewal, e-visas for non-citizens visiting Kenya, as well as driving licences, ID cards and health records from being issued.

This is not the first time that government information has been digitally compromised. In July 2023, Microsoft released information suggesting a group of hackers gained access to email accounts affecting approximately 25 organisations, including government agencies.

Cyber warfare: government bodies remain digitally vulnerable

Mobile-money banking services were also affected by the attack, in addition to people relying on mobile-money service M-Pesa to make payments at shops, public transport vehicles, hotels and other platforms also experienced difficulties.

Millions of people across Kenya use Mobile-money to receive and spend money and the platform is seen as widely convenient for those who do not have access to essential banking services.

Kenya's National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and Kenya Railways also experienced service disruptions.

According to the BBC, the Anonymous Sudan has claimed responsibility for the cyberattack. The group portrays itself as Sudanese cyber-warriors and has sworn to attack anyone who tries to interfere in the internal affairs of Sudan.

The group is believed to have links to Russia, according to several reports, but the group has denied a connection.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo confirmed that the cyberattack was being carried out by the group and stated that no sensitive data was compromised or lost during the incident, despite impacting the above services. Rather, it was a denial of services.

Now that services are back online, the Kenyan government has since assured the public that it is taking immediate measures to address the security breach and strengthen the eCitizen’s defences against future cyber threats. This has included issuing visas to travellers to Kenya upon arrival as a temporary measure.

Fears of ever-increasing global cyber crime

Cyber Magazine has previously reported that approximately 90% of African businesses were operating without cybersecurity protocols in place, making them increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats like hacking, phishing and malware attacks. 

Earlier in 2023, cyberattacks increased by 76% across Kenya in particular, with exploits emerging as the most dominant form of attack in the nation. 

Cyberattacks have increased by 76% across some African nations, with exploits having emerged as the most dominant form of attack in Kenya as 177,000 incidents have been blocked so far. 

Global cyber crime has been at a critical point throughout 2023, with countries like India calling for more workers in cybersecurity as a result of a shortage. This type of attack on businesses across African countries is increasing at an alarming rate, making cybersecurity a crucial priority for businesses. 

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