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Kenya reels from shock of paralysing cyber attack: eCitizen, M-Pesa, banking services, Kenya Power prepaid electricity tokens and more affected

Kenya is reeling from the shock of a paralysing digital attack meted on various public and private systems.

The attack, which, according to Kenyans, started a few days ago, has been attributed to a group calling itself Anonymous Sudan, suggesting links to the notorious hacker group Anonymous.

The group is said to be aggrieved by the country’s stance in the ongoing conflict in Sudan. The group has been using popular messenger app Telegram to communicate its exploits attacking Kenya’s digital infrastructure and properties.

Its attacks, which the ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said were distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, saw the paralysis of hundreds of government services offered online through various web portals including the popular eCitizen portal that allows Kenyans to apply for business permits, birth and death certificates, national identification cards, passports, marriage certificates, driving licenses among others.

Speaking for the first time since the attacks were reported, Owalo confirmed the attacks on eCitizen and said that it was a case of DDoS attacks, a statement that was later corroborated by a press statement from his ministry.

The eCitizen portal is also where visitors to the country apply for their visas from the Immigration department. Its grounding saw the Foreign Affairs ministry reach out to airlines to allow travellers to board as they would be issued with their visas on arrival in Nairobi and other points of entry into the country.

The attacks also saw the grounding to a halt of popular mobile money service M-Pesa which had its popular “super app” remain inaccessible for hours on end. Banks and various other institutions that are reliant on the M-Pesa network also remained grounded for the better part of Thursday 27th July when the attacks by the hacker group appeared to have hit a crescendo.

National electricity distributer Kenya Power also had its operations crippled with its prepaid electricity tokens issuance system going offline and making it difficult for customers to buy electricity tokens for their use.

Websites of public universities as well as some mainstream media outlets were also reported to have witnessed the said attacks.

As of Friday (28th July) morning, most services that had been under attack had returned to normalcy.



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