Chinese hackers spies on Kenyan government, lessons for Ghana


A recent investigation by Reuters reveals that Chinese hackers specifically targeted Kenyan ministries, state institutions, and the State House from 2019 to 2022. 

Their objective was to gain unauthorised access and assess the substantial debt owed to Beijing, which amounts to billions of dollars.

Kenya’s debt to China stood at $6.31 billion in March, the lowest since March 2019 when it was $6.01 billion, following a peak of $7.06 billion in June 2021.

According to Reuters, the defence contractor, pointing to identical tools and techniques used in other hacking campaigns, identified a Chinese state-linked hacking team known as “BackdoorDiplomacy” as having carried out the attack on Kenya’s intelligence agency.

The security breach started with a “spearphishing” attack after a State employee downloaded an infected document unknowingly in 2019 and went on up to last year, Reuters said, quoting three cybersecurity experts familiar with the attacks.

Documents provided by the analyst reveal Chinese cyber spies subjected the office of Kenya’s president, its defence, information, health, land and interior ministries, its counter-terrorism centre and other institutions to persistent and prolonged hacking activity.

Per Reuters, “A review of internet logs delineating the Chinese digital espionage activity showed that a server controlled by the Chinese hackers also accessed a shared Kenyan government webmail service more recently from December 2022 until February this year.”

So far, neither Chinese officials nor the Kenyan government have responded to the allegations.

Lessons for Ghana

What the Chinese have done in Kenya should be of great concern to Ghana because Ghana is one of the countries that owes China and Chinese technology is quite dominant in Ghana.

Already, the Chinese are causing a lot of havoc to the water bodies and arable land through their widespread illegal mining activities in Ghana called galamsey.

Again, at sea, the Chinese have for many years been engaging in the illegal pair-trawling system for fishing and depleting Ghana’s waters of even small fishes with impunity. Local fisherman have reported having to buy frozen fish from the Chinese at sea because they don’t fish when they go to sea.

Ghana has also been very welcoming of Chinese technology at both the state and private sector levels. Chinese technology giant, Huawei, which has been banned in America and in several developed countries for security concerns, is a major technology partner for the government of Ghana, telcos and other players in the ICT space.

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