Zesa “Hackers” steal US$10 million every month

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This is what a Zimbabwean Hacker looks like.

This is what a Zimbabwean Hacker looks like.

From all those movies and TV shows that I watch, I have always wondered what a real world hacker looks like and inevitably, every-time I attempt the exercise an image of a soulless misanthropist with thick prescription glasses appears in my mind. They live in their parents basement or attic, wearing nothing but their underwear as they type furiously on blogs as they give their take on the World economy, the Knights Templar, Who killed Kennedy, the Illuminati and the NSA.

Most these hackers are Caucasian- the black dude often dies first in the movie- which might explain my difficulty in conjuring up the image of what exactly a Zimbabwean hacker looks like. That and the fact that the city council and government will murder you before they allow you to build a basement this country makes you wonder where the Zimbabwean hacker lives if s/he exists if you also consider that most houses here do not have an attic either.

Young Bill.

This guy would be a hacker if he knew how to code.

You and I no longer have to keep on wondering however. It would appear that, according to a recent article in the Herald, your Zimbabwean hacker lives next door, knows very little coding and the only programming languages s/he knows are Facebook and Twitter. Chances are that s/he is a ZESA employee or one of the firms contracted to supply prepaid meters and he does it (the hacking) the old school way using social engineering and with jumpers and cables. You see before Google and Facebook old school hackers like Kevin Mitnick used things like whistles to  hack into phone systems and make free calls.

It would seem ZESA has learnt nothing from the way old school hackers used to gain access into systems. For example in the case of Mitnick: he was able to freely ride on Los Angels buses because he was able to convince a friendly bus driver to tell him where to buy a puncher that was used in punching the tickets used in buses. Investigations by the Herald have revealed that in a similar manner over 4000 households have managed to buy and have installed on their properties “hacked” meters that allow them to freely use electricity in their houses. It appears there are many loopholes in the meter installing process which everyone at the company seems to know about but no one is willing to close ostensibly  because they are benefiting.

As a result ZESA is being defrauded of between $10 million to as much as $30 million every month by these hackers. These hackers might not be stealing cold cash or Bitcoins as infamous hackers in other parts of the world but energy is a currency that can be converted into cash by accepting bribes from clients. To compound matters, we are told by one ZESA customer who emailed us recently, that some of the machines installed by ZESA allow you to freely use electricity freely if they breakdown. Apparently when the Itron User interface cannot reach the meter one is not charged for the electricity they consume. It is not clear whether this is an issue with all the meters or if this is unique to this user because if it is the former you can bet a lot of tech-savy Zimbos have already discovered the loophole and are taking advantage of it. When the client told ZESA about this malfunction he was told there were no spare parts so the client has done what any rational person amongst us would do; continue to enjoy his free lunch.

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In a normal world we would expect ZESA to swiftly swat these hackers and their accomplices but in the wake of Salary-gate we know no one cares. If only the parastatal would employ competent people to take care of the problems it is facing including the tampered meter problem maybe we would have less black outs.

Picture Credits: Chitownews and Ditaltonto

15 Comments

  1. less poetry says:

    ouch what a painful read 😛

  2. concerned says:

    zesa losing money not that misleading headline tatatowan vahnu vanogona code

  3. Nerudo Mregi says:

    Wouldn’t have hurt me to read Zesa employees are corrupt and costing Zesa this much.

    It doesn’t remove any much bling. It wont hurt too. It will make you not read such comments and wouldn’t waste my time much. Thank You!

  4. The King says:

    A lame article

  5. The King says:

    Where did you get these values e.g 10 million?

    1. Garikai Dzoma says:

      There is a link within the article.

      1. The King says:

        Ya, but it says “ZESA could be losing….”, you put this as if its a known

  6. obert says:

    Stealing electricity and hacking into computers are totally different. The author of this article attempts to link them by using the same word “hack”, but the skillset required to do one is completely different to the other, and so are the outcomes and damages to wider society. Please Techzim, get a grip of your reporting!

    1. Garikai Dzoma says:

      The prepaid meter is an embedded device.

  7. Ndaba Sibanda says:

    This is not hacking nxa mani you mean fraud ?

  8. Garikai Dzoma says:

    I was not bound by the Criminal Procedure Act. I raised points that would stand in a Civil matter only-preponderance of evidence rather than reasonable test case. Anyway thanks for the tip on smartgrid.

    1. rendani says:

      Haha you realise your above statement reduces your article to pub talk right?then perhaps giving a definition to “Hackers” as in your article title would serve more clarity.

  9. fiend says:

    Valid topic.Poorly written. Sensationalist.

    Fox News et al

  10. Farai Sairai says:

    If people can enjoy “free” power, why not? Honestly speaking who really cares if ZESA loses money? The chefs are probably pocketing that much in salaries and deals between themselves. If it were me, I would not bother have the meter fixed. I would call it my benefit from the all the chaos and shambles in all these parastatals.

  11. ZESA Hacker says:

    What with the hit at Bill Gates. The guy can code better than the person who wrote this article.

    This is pathetic. Techzim if you are not getting enough money off your adsense account, you rather post an article asking us to click on your ads so you guys get more money.

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