Kenya has refuted claims of being hacked by the Chinese following a Reuters expose that claimed the attacks targeted Kenyan government departments for a period of three years.
In a statement released on Thursday evening by Interior Permanent Secretary Raymond Omollo, the government said the allegations presented in the article were not subjected to authoritative proof of existence by the relevant persons from both the Kenyan and the Chinese governments.
“In the absence of the above, the alleged motive behind the said attacks cannot be subsequently established beyond doubt,” said Omollo.
The report claimed that the hacks went on for three years targeting eight of Kenya’s ministries and government departments including the office of the president and the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
It then linked the attacks to Kenya’s debts with China claiming that they sought to gain information on debt owed to Beijing as a strategic link in the Belt and Road Initiative - President Xi Jinping's plan for a global infrastructure network.
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The report further claimed that further compromises may occur as the requirement for understanding upcoming repayment strategies becomes needed citing a July 2021 research report written by a defence contractor.
However, Omollo termed the report as a deliberate attempt at stoking panic and mistrust.
“The article should be viewed as sponsored propaganda. The wide circulation and the alacrity for its attribution by other foreign media with well-known inclinations further hint at a choreographed and concerted attack against Kenya’s sovereignty,” added Omollo.
Yesterday, the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi also disproved the claims made by the report terming them an attempt to sow discord between Nairobi and Beijing.
“The said false report is groundless, far-fetched and sheer nonsense. Hacking is a common threat to all countries and China is also a victim of cyber-attack. China consistently and firmly opposes and combats cyber-attacks and cyber theft in all forms. Tracing the source of cyber-attacks is a complex technical issue,” the statement from the embassy read in part.
Omollo further questioned why China would opt to hack systems that it installed for the government.
“The bulk of the critical networking infrastructure deployed by the government of Kenya is sourced from the People’s Republic of China. It is reasonable, therefore, to contemplate that if the country of origin desired to infiltrate the same systems it has helped install, it would unlikely engage third-party hackers,” he added.
He also said that just like in many other countries across the globe, Kenya’s cybersecurity infrastructure is formative, and this portends inherent high-risk exposure to cyber threats noting that the government will continuously strengthen the security and resilience of all its Critical Information Infrastructure Systems (CIIS) through requisite laws and regulations and investments in stronger cyber security systems.