Hacker typing on a laptop
Hacker typing on a laptop

Kenya has been troubled by hackers in recent years as the governance goes digital.

The key websites, which serve millions of Kenyans every day since the east African nation has digitized most of its services, had been defaced by an international hackers’ group on Monday.

The group temporarily took over the websites and displayed their logo on it.

Government information and communication technology (ICT) experts later regained control of the sites.

Among sites affected were those of the Judicial Service Commission, Department for Immigration, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining.

According to the ICT Authority, 18 websites were affected during the attack, disrupting crucial services.

The Monday cyber-attack came months after another group defaced about 100 government websites.

Kenya has been on the crosshair of international hackers’ groups in the past years, with the cybercriminals targeting sites of private companies like banks and saccos, key personalities and government ministries.

And to show their brazenness, the hackers, some working with locals, attacked the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) websites and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Twitter page.

On Monday, government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said that all the websites attacked were hosted on a single server.

He, however, assured that crucial information in the affected websites was safe since they were hosted in “secure government private network that has requisite security.”

Kenya is being attacked at a time when the government is moving all its services online to enhance efficiency and fight corruption.

Among government services Kenyans access online include passport application, application and renewal of driving licenses and filing of tax returns.

These services have been integrated with mobile payment systems making them fully digital.

Kenyan firms lost 3 billion dollars (about 300 million U.S. dollars) to cybercriminals last year, up from 210 million dollars in 2017, according to a recent report by Serianu, a firm that monitors cyber-attacks.

Serianu chief executive William Makatiani said the amount included direct money lost in attacks or ransom paid to free up stolen data.

A CA report for the last quarter of 2018 reveals that there was an increase in the number of cyber threats in Kenya, with attacks standing at over 10.2 million in the three months, compared to 3.8 million in the previous quarter.

Kenya’s total number of active internet subscriptions stood at 46 million at the end of 2018, up from 33 million a year earlier, pointing to increased usage and reliance on the internet to transact business in the east African nation.

Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solutions noted that the hackers hitting the government websites may be doing it for fun.

“These are people whose major aim is to show how vulnerable their victims are since they are not after money. Once they hack the website, they post their messages to publicize themselves announcing their presence, which is what matter to them,” he said. Enditem

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