Anti-Mugabe ‘hacktivists’ target ANC, IOL and Zanu-PF

2013-06-16 14:00

“Tick tock tick tock, your site will stop working in 40 minutes. think about all the blood on your corrupt hands when it is down.”

This was a tweet sent to the ANC by a group calling itself Anonymous Africa (AA) shortly before the governing party’s website was brought down in a “well-orchestrated” hacking attack on Friday.

But according to AA – a group of online activist hackers, or “hacktivists” – the attack was a protest at what they call the ANC’s support for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

The governing party was the latest to fall victim to the group, which hopes “to get as many people (as possible) talking about the 20 000 Ndebele(s) Mugabe killed and the corruption of many of our (African) leaders”.

This is a reference to the estimated deaths of 20 000 Ndebele people in Matabeleland, west of Zimbabwe, in the 1980s.

In the name of this cause, the group this week brought down the websites of ruling Zanu-PF, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the state-owned Herald newspaper as well as Independent Online (IOL), a news media website based in the Joburg central business district.

It was an article by black-consciousness thinker and author Andile Mngxitama, originally published in the Sunday Independent and reproduced on IOL, which sparked the online protest, or “hacktivism”, by AA.

In his article, Mngxitama calls Mugabe the “greatest black statesman alive today in Africa”.

On Wednesday, AA informed the media group that its website was down.

Shortly thereafter, Mngxitama tweeted that “Whites attacked the IOL website in defence of colonialism. Mugabe is our hero. They can hack all they want!”

In response to what it called Mngxitama’s “race baiting”, the group quoted the “Hacker’s Manifesto”, saying it existed “without colours”: “This is our world now ... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud?.?.?.?We exist without skin colour, without nationality, without religious bias?.?.?.?and you call us criminals.”

Costa Koutakis, a chief client officer at Internet Solutions, told City Press that the method the group was using is called a “distributed denial of service”.

This means that hackers from different locations use software that produces the effect of thousands of different computers requesting to access the website.

“These requests are seen by the server as normal request and are allowed to go through,” says Koutakis.

“But the server can’t handle the number of requests, and then it crashes and stops working.”

The ANC has condemned the attack as a deliberate attack of sabotage and indicated that it will not be “deterred nor derailed in the efforts to assist, where requested, in Zimbabwe or elsewhere on the continent”.

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