Foreign hackers under their #H4cK3rsGh0sT25 Anonymous group have threatened to disrupt government online operations over what they called continued human rights violations.
In a bid to promote e-services, several government services including; public service salary processing, tax invoicing and payment, contract bidding, among others, are now fully operating online.
The hackers who claim “We aren’t anti-government, we are anti-bad governance and organized crime in positions of power” reached out to The Observer last weekend, saying they are going to carry out more attacks after previous ones on parliament where they leaked ‘MPs sensitive information’ into a public paste bin including their next of kin mobile phone numbers after successfully hacking into parliament’s database.
They have twice defaced the Civil Service College Uganda (www.cscu.go.ug) website in the last two months and posted there a message; “Greeting. Anonymous has noticed the horrid actions taken by the torturous and destructive ‘leader’ Museveni in Uganda. We will do what we can to stop this. We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forget. We do not forgive. Expect us. - YourAnonWolf”.
According to their website, Civil Service College Uganda (CSCU) was established on July 1, 2010, under the ministry of Public Service to provide in-service training, strengthening public policy research, providing advisory services and supporting innovations for improved service delivery.
Further, the hackers have also leaked the database of the Electronic Legal Assistance Center (elac.uls.or.ug) which is under the Uganda Law Society (ULS). The current ULS leadership under Pheona Wall Nabasa is accused of playing dumb to the alleged atrocities being committed against the citizenry especially the state-inspired kidnaps and torture against opposition supporters.
Nabasa has even come out to publicly condemn lawyers and threatened disciplinary action against those who have criticized the judiciary for its alleged biases against members of the opposition.
President Yoweri Museveni recently admitted that his presidential guards, Special Forces Command (SFC), are holding several opposition supporters that were arrested in the lead up to and aftermath of the January 14 general elections.
Museveni said the arrested youth had now become friends of government after they revealed to the state opposition plans to disrupt peace before and after the elections and now ahead of his swearing-in later in May after winning another controversial election. Museveni promised to release the arrested youths unconditionally or offer a soft landing for those facing criminal charges before courts of law.
Indeed, progressively, several have been released back into their communities although some have narrated ordeals of torture whilst in detention. The hackers told The Observer that they have discovered some vulnerabilities in Museveni’s website.
“Yes, I’ve found a vulnerability in his [Museveni] website, and I’ve been attempting to exploit it. There’s a possibility it’s a false positive, though. Even if it is, I have other ideas to attack his website though,” said YourAnonWolf who claims to be behind the recent attacks.
Asked how leaking data of innocent people like MPs’ next of kin is helping the fight against the alleged Museveni bad governance, YourAnonWolf said; “The MPs’ sensitive info being released is even added pressure to the government. Along with that, the parliament is closely associated with the government, which is exactly what I’m fighting against. So, I don’t have any issue with releasing that info to the public.”
Reminded that the Uganda government has always pointed out that foreign influences are responsible for causing insecurity and instability in the country, and now their apparent attacks on state websites is going to give credence to that narrative, the hackers said human rights have no sovereignty and it is their duty to do whatever is in their powers to challenge dictatorships around the world for the defenseless.
“I will stop when I see no point in continuing, but I remain hopeful, and will continue to be hopeful. I am not a Ugandan, but I don’t see any harm in not being one. Ugandan or not, I’m still trying to help and do my best... As the attacks only recently started, there’s a possibility there will be a reaction. I think I can achieve my objective, however, not alone. My attacks are added support to those who are protesting the government as well.”
When reached out for comment, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo twice made his phone line busy while the minister of ICT and National Governance Judith Nabakooba did not pick her known mobile phone number despite repeated calls.
The anonymous hackers have carried out similar attacks in East Asia against the Myanmar military junta that recently seized power through a coup and has continued to turn guns against protesting citizens. Earlier this month, hackers brought down the Myanmar’s ministry of Finance and Industry as well as the Energy ministry websites.
They also took down the website of Ayeyarwady Bank Ltd, a private bank in Myanmar for at least four hours. Asked why they do not leak information of corrupt government officials who are stealing from the vulnerable poor, the hackers said it is “somewhat challenging” but they are still giving it a shot.
Unverified reports pointed to hackers as the cause of last week’s navigation diagonal block on the Suez Canal in Egypt that brought a major global trade route to a standstill for more than a week after one of the world’s biggest trade ship carrying over 20,000 containers ran aground.