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Has South Africa resorted to cyberwarfare after cricket defeat?

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UPDATEAfter the flurry of comments to this article, Tweets and Facebook comments, we’d like to clarify issues around the article. 

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The beauty about blogging and social media unlike traditional media is immediacy. Sometimes the feedback is uplifting sometimes not so much but whichever direction it takes it’s all relevant and useful. It was interesting to read the comments to this piece and though I had written it as a parody of South African attitudes to Zimbabwe(ans), in the same vein they have taken the mickey out of us with ads such the Nandos ad.

As someone correctly noted I do watch a lot sport so I couldn’t help making the connection, admittedly tenuous between the cricket victory and the dodgy search results. Part of the humour was in the same vein of the media parody of the Germany – Greece relations prior to their soccer Euro 2012 clash (in light of Germany basically underwriting Greek debt).

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I did make an enquiry to Google about the anomaly but are yet to receive their feedback. So yes there was presumption and some liberty with ethics, but the euphoria of winning clouded judgement. I’m actually encouraged to see the comments that have come through (not just on this article by the way) and see them as a source of optimism because it means there is a community that is passionate about what is written on Techzim and has commensurate high expectations. That’s absolutely great news for me as blogger and for Techzim! Thank you for your comments and your input as always has been noted.

After South Africa’s humiliating 9 wicket thumping at the hands of a brave Zimbabwe in the T20 final, a rather intriguing twist that could be straight out of a 007 movie has occurred; the Zimbabwe Cricket website seems to have been hacked or at least search results for the site have been compromised. The actual site is up and running. If you directly type in www.zimcricket.org into your browser your are directed to the authentic Zimbabwe Cricket website. However, if you search for “Zimbabwe Cricket” and you click on the links associated with the www.zimcricket.org domain you are redirected to fake websites. One of the links leads to a malware site that my antivirus prevents from loading and giving the following message “Blocked an attack by: Web Attack: Blackhole Toolkit Website 21”.

Some ungentlemanly conduct of Hansie Cronje proportions may be at play and as possibly some tiffed of cricket loving SA hackers are at work.

The authentic Zimbabwe Cricket site accessed via direct navigation

 

Screens showing results after clicking on search results of zimcricket.org domain, the first a Viagra listing and the second directs too http://www.successuite.net with the message: “Traffic Back URL not using.”

 Images: Techzim

 


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56 thoughts on “Has South Africa resorted to cyberwarfare after cricket defeat?

  1. Brian Gondo do us a favour and stop with this presumptuous nonsense. You haven’t presented a single shred of evidence to suggest why you are prematurely jumping to the conclusion that S.A. had any hand in this.

  2. Cyber Warfare, quite an intriguing scenario! Who would have thought sports diplomacy and the web will get this far!

  3. I googled it and I got to the correct domain. I used Bing and the I got what you mentioned above. Could it not be a search engine issue? My reasoning says if it is hacked then the same result should appear despite the search engine used. I think it’s a Bing issue. Maybe someone who knows better might explain it

  4. Lets forgive Brian on these undiplomatic accusations and just assume that he meant no harm! However, if the world community only had 100 people, these accussations would start a war! Well done!

  5. I think we should have articles like this once the facts are proved. It is dangerous to report speculation as fact. Can you imagine right now if something went wrong on the SA government website after Zuma just left Zimbabwe and then someone at the Sunday Times (SA) suggests it could be the doing of Zimbabweans. Can you imagine what would happen. Have you forgotten the “Burning Man”, 2008? Personally i would recommend deleting this article coz we cant have it being picked up by others when it is not backed by facts.

    1. You sir have single handedly blown this one out of proportion! Your comment is highly imaginative. I’m impressed at how you miraculously weave parallels between Zuma and Zimbabwe cricket.

  6. I take this article as satire. However Brian pointed out something I came across on numerous occasions. Most websites from Zimbabwe are easy to hack and have viruses.

  7. This has to be the most irresponsible of all posts. You usually have ok articles but this is just too much and will not be healthy for TechZim credibility. You do not blatantly say such things even as a matter of opinion.

    I cannot believe that this passed through the hands of an editor.

    Is it a race to churn out articles?

  8. TechZim, being a tech site, you would assume that you strive to be at the forefront of all things tech. That means some level of responsibility and clear thoughts on such issues. Particularly security related.

    Tech people are not alarmists. That is the job of lay people and sensationalists like Fox News

  9. Give Gondo a break. It is not past human nature to hake sights for the reasons he gave. Sports is about passion and passion sometimes leads to all sorts of behaviors. If Gondo is wrong, you can put that to his passion about sports! I think its a healthy question and am amazed by the passion in disapproving of Gondo. Maybe that is the satire!

    1. If Gondo indeed meant this post to be satirical, fine. But again this is simply not the place for satire IMO. It’s a tech blog and as such, should live up to a certain quality of standards as expected by its readers.

  10. How intriguing that most of the comments here came out vehemently attacking the author’s conjecture. How many of the posters here can sit on a keyboard and spend ‘months’ tracing a hacking incident? And usually there are no guarantees you will be able to trace and catch the culprit! Once a site has been compromised its fair game to conjecture who may be behind the mischief.
    Since the South African media came out blazing how Zim ‘came down to earth’ after the initial success and only to be surprised a few days later, its the sort of thing that can send an anti-Zim supporter’s blood temperature through the roof! Hence the authors conjecture while short on specifics was fair game. So cool it people!

    1. I agree with you JamesM. I find it mind boggling that so many people can not see the possibility of a hacker being triggered by the loss of SA. Gondo could have got it wrong, but he is not being ridiculous. I am sure hackers do not need anything more than slight resentment to launch off an attack. And to think that all south African’s are saints and they would not do this is really intriguing. I would understand it if most of the old chap’s contributions are conjecture. Then we would all agree that we, as the community that makes TeckZim tick, would have to remind him to refocus. But just one article….come on guys. On a lighter note, I think we need to congratulate Kabweza and ourselves for making USA recognize the old boy’s potential. Lets keep the passion up but also inject a bit of balance.

  11. I dont see any cause for alarm. The official site is up and running. how can you base such an argument on links given from search results? Google search results are based on key words, therefore can lead to any other site with those words. and how can one hack or tamper with google search results? seriously guys…

  12. I’m 100% Zimbo. This has been going on for a long time now I first expirienced before the T20 tournament even started after seeing an Ad about the tournament in the herald. Stick to what you do best Techzim, we love you for it no need to start with this baseless nonsense.

  13. If satire was the aim, then the tone is totally off, I’m sorry to say @google-5df3e170c84ff6c1e805a2048306445b:disqus

    My overall (uninformed) sentiment is that this blog would greatly benefit from the
    oversight of an editor (in terms of consistency of article quality, style, content, and as a filter
    to less well-thought-out/worded articles).

    I say this with love.

    1. I agree na TK, let;s not publish poor quality content remeber this is read internationally and the issue of cyber crime.warfare is hot and if someone reads this they will laugh at zimbas. Kubweza proof check some of the content you can even engage mamwe mafesi ako anoziva security to see if certain articles are consistent rather than mocking our intellect like this.

  14. seriously? this is the most ridiculous article i’ve seen in my life. brian, i think you’d make a good candidate as a journalist for h-metro. pathetic!

  15. My friend mentioned this site at dinner with the family last night. I don’t know how I’d never heard of it. Perhaps its my age. Well-done guys/girls! Young guys/girls making meaningful impact in IT!

    It is unfortunate that what led me here was the bad words my friend had to say about this article. Whilst I am not one to be harsh, I do love giving advice. For your career, Brian Gondo delete this article and move on. You may be the owner of the website but also have a responsibility to abide by some ethic.

    You have touched on so many issues. I say this with the best of interests for you and the website:

    1) You do not need to be vengeful and to generalise your sentiments against the Nando’s advert. If you understood it well, what it really strives to say is (at the end of the day) that no one is originally from South Africa! All are migrants! So they should leave behind their xenophobia…except the last guy. The one who natively belongs here

    Even if they were ill-intentioned, does it justify to then brand them all hackers? Two wrongs make no right.

    2) You have strayed into issues of diplomacy and did so by generalising.
    Saying “South Africans have…”. Even though you say it is a question, technicality does not remove your accusation that “they hacked” the site. How would you think I would react if someone asked me, “Is your mother a prostitute?” It is not a matter of technicality but inference and human communication. You need to correct your sentiments and approach.

    3) Ignoring the bad implications,cyber-warfare is not search result hijacking. If there is humour in it, at least get the terms right. You can research all your articles before publishing them. Google is free and good. So is Wikipedia. Do not appear like the non-techinical person, that I know you are not.

    4) What happened to good sportsmanship? After-all, we beat them. What purpose does it serve to write this, from a sports fan’s perspective?

    5) I doubt people conspired to react like this to your article. I have to agree with most of the sound advice here. I also understand the harsh reactions. You correctly said that the comments are a reflection that people watch the site and have formed a loyal community around it. But its all the more reason for alarm bells to ring in your head. Not just for your site, but also as a person in the IT field. I heard about your website through your article. Now your name has stuck in my head. We spoke of you in IT circles. Now imagine how viral the web is, and how news spreads. You seem to have many good articles. What is one article at the expense of your career or the reputation of a good website that you founded.

    I truly hope you find reason and not offense in people’s concern and harsh reactions. They clearly love the site and are protecting what they, at least, think it represents.

    Once again, I this is a good site you have created for us, Brian! I will be reading your articles and sharing the good side about it with others bro!

  16. I personally suggest Techzim delete this post and replace it with a notice saying the article was deleted.

    @8c8a0dfc2a7fc3c410be15d8be0cbe57:disqus says

    2) …
    technicality does not remove your accusation that “they hacked” the
    site. How would you think I would react if someone asked me, “Is your
    mother a prostitute?” It is not a matter of technicality but inference
    and human communication. You need to correct your sentiments and
    approach.

    Yesterday i read a blog where someone said something like “if i call you an idiot it does not change the fact that 2 + 2 = 4”

    An insult is still an insult.

    Zimbabwe has played many cricket games with South Africa, and even in other sporting disciplines. Whichever side lost, everybody, including the fans always knew there will be another day. So what’s so special about the last match that it would attract “cyberwarfare”?

    Techzim has reported a number of Zimbabwean websites e.g. Herald, ZITF etc. being hacked. So what is new about this one? And just how did you know it was South Africans who did it?

    It is no different to a Zimbabwean being arrested in South Africa for a crime he did not commit just because “foreigners commit crime in South Africa”

    I liken your article to racial profiling.

    Personally i say Techzim must remove this article. The longer it stays here, the worse things will get. Probably real South African hackers will be inspired to hack the Techzim and you wont talk about South Africans hacking any website anymore.

    You cannot stab someone and then claim you were just playing.

    If you had said Chuck Norris did it, then maybe it wouldn’t matter.

    1. I find this a bit difficult to follow. On one side you are saying Gondo should not suggest South Africans can hack a sight for loosing a game and in the same breath you are suggesting that South Africans can hack TeckZim is it does not take this article off. To me you are commiting the sam crime as Gondo (if that is a crime) by imagining that South African’s can hack a site if someone rubs them the wrong side. It’s sad to see bloggers suggeting deleting an article in these days of free thinking. Nothing here is really that offensive.

      1. You did not understand my post. You need to read it again. It is wrong to just rush to assume South Africans hacked a site just because SA played lost a game against Zimbabwe, that’s one.

        Two. There is something called the Butterfly Effect. Perhaps Gondo’s reasoning was along those lines. The most often cited example of this is a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan causing a tornado in the US. There is no obvious connection but theoretically ,based on some assumptions, it can happen and explain something.

        However we live in the real world with real consequences and one should not just jump to accuse or suggest one nationality (even as a joke) may have been responsible for something that happened without even a shred of facts. In Estonia there was a time when their nation was under cyber siege and there was a cyberinvasion. They could tell where it was from by the evidence. But in this case its only cricket.

        As for South Africans hacking a site.. i mean…there are all kinds of people out there. The good, the bad, the ugly, the uglier, and the ugliest. There is nothing to stop a angry South Africa, even if one claims free speech, form hacking the source of the article. it would be useless to post that you were only kidding.

        Last year you saw Mastercard and Amazon websites attacked by hackers over Wikileaks account suspension. Does it matter what your opinion of rubbing the wrong way is? The attack in that case will, and did, come.

        I am not suggesting Techzim be hacked, just saying when you post articles that are based on rumours on a serious technology site, expect consequences, even the unexpected, like on the website that contains the offending message – getting hacked for example.

        If the article had appeared on the sports page of the Herald nobody would have said anything or cared. People would have had a good laugh. Nandos chooses its media carefully and when to say it very well. People who come here take articles seriously and they are all not cricket fans.

        They are not here to be entertained about cricket matters, regardless of this being a blog too.

        So when you mention the hacking and cricket, many will simply follow the technology bit and care nothing about cricket. What you are witnessing is a clear case of miscommunication.

        The writer’s intended message totally was not how people interpreted it. People can easily interpret a Nandos ad but in the case of this article maybe one or two people are seeing the joke, if its there. The Nandos ad always has the intended effect.

        Now when you say a bad joke, seriously, and later come back and explain that you were trying to “Nandos”, when Nandos does videos and not articles, and thendefend yourself on the basis of free speech, don’t expect people not to also exercise theirs, including their freedom of expression.

        My advice to BG – some of whose articles i have found interesting – is to steer clear of being funny and avoid stories that would fly with mates at a game with the boys, with business. Techzim is no place to write a tech joke that would fly with your cricket mates only. Many people here are here for serious business.

        Techzim authors must understand that with great power comes great responsibility. There is now a standard people expect from this blog and which Techzim now has to always maintain otherwise people will go elsewhere. reputations and authority/authoritativeness can be lost by simply posting “Nandos” articles. Like i said, people are here on serious business.

        1. If some strange people hack MasterCard because they are offended, would other equally strange people not hack a site of a cricket team that offended them? I am sure that most South Africans are a descent lot but to rule out an odd hacker is being a bit on the extreme side. Just saying ……..

          1. Do you realise you are arguing over a presumptuous accusation? Where there’s no fragment of truth of evidence?

            1. If you follow my side of the contribution (which is available at various places in this post) I hope you will see that I never said that it is true that SA hackers hacked the site.

          2. Exactly my point.If some strange person offended SA hackers with his post that is not based on facts, would
            other equally offended SA hackers not go on to hack the website that
            offended them?

      1. Thanks. Am sure that there is a lot of TZ guys who do not see anything wrong with this but decided not to comment. What made me comment was the rather intriguing suggestions that the post be taken down! I think we Zimbabweans are developing a rather strange approach of reacting to views that are different from ours. Enjoy your stay in the land of the free and the brave!

      2. We can call it humor. But we, him, you and others know it was an overreaction. It dznt need to be removed, but there’s absolutely no humor there. Humor is those solar thingies…

  17. Media and journalism thrive on speculations. Let Brian Gondo speculate. When Techcrunch speculates about the next iPhone, no one complains. When papers speculate football transfer rumors, no one complains. When tabloids speculate about who has nuclear weapons, most of you follow. When Brian Gondo speculates about the Zim Cricket site, no one SHOULD complain.

    If you have facts that say it wasn’t a South African, then write your own article. Otherwise if you don’t have those facts and you are defending them, then you are speculating/assuming as well. Just on Gondo’s opposite side. Good journalists try to read between the lines and ask questions. Internet trolls complain.

    1. People just had different perceptions and maybe expectations of what the site is about. You can say, most of us take/took it seriously, as are most of its articles. It just deviated from the norm and people took it with that frame of mind…and responded.

      Its not trolling by the way.

      People are just as reactive in all those sites as well. Especially tech ones like Techcrunch. They are even more “flowery” in their words. We wont even have to mention mainstream media.

      Anyways, the owners have put it to perspective.

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