There is so much craziness going on in the world, so many wars and rumours of wars that we kind of forget about it.
Over 377,000 people have died in the Yemeni civil war since 2014, but you could say it started a long time ago so we were bound to forget. Well, the Russia-Ukraine war is still going on but we are not paying attention, truth be told.
Here is why it’s overwhelming, there are more than 45 armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the second worst affected region with over 35 armed conflicts.
Today we talk about the conflict in Sudan and how a hacker group from the country has been on a rampage.
The Sudan conflict
We shall not go deep into it but here are a few points to paint the picture:
- Sudan had already been grappling with violence and displacement since 2003
- Long-time authoritarian leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019 was removed in 2019
- A transitional civilian government was placed
- A military coup two years later dissolved it, it was jointly carried out by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
- Violent clashed erupted between the SAF and RSF in 2023 and they have battling for control ever since.
It is not a modern conflict if it does not include restricting internet access and communication in general.
The RSF controls areas where telecommunications infrastructure is located and is believed to be responsible for disrupting the mobile networks.
Netblocks data shows the collapse of internet connectivity in Sudan. Here is live connection data for the period 26 Jan 2024 to 7 February 2024.
You can see that leading mobile operator Zain is offline, as is MTN. Sudatel is as good as offline too, what’s 5%?
The RSF denies having anything to do with it but someone is responsible. Instead, they blame the SAF.
This is a hacker group that has taken to cyber attacks to advance their causes. Anonymous Sudan has launched multiple DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against organisations and governments from across the world.
Anonymous Sudan started out exclusively attacking Western organisations and govts that it believed were engaged in anti-Muslim activity.
The hacker group hates the paramilitary group, RSF and has recently been attacking every nation it perceives to be legitimising it.
See, some East African countries have attempted to mediate a solution to the ongoing Sudan conflict. However, Anonymous Sudan seems to view this as legitimising the RSF, which they think should not be on the table.
In fact, Anonymous Sudan says it will attack any country that receives the leader of the paramilitary group.
Anonymous Sudan has claimed responsibility for attacking Kenya on 3 February when Kenyan educational websites, including universities, were hit with cyberattacks.
On the 5th of February, Anonymous claimed to have disconnected all internet devices on Djibouti Telecom’s network.
NetBlocks data shows that there indeed was a disruption. Not quite “all internet devices” but a disruption all the same.
Then on the 6th of February, they communicated the following:
We have launched a fatal cyber attack on the infrastructure of the majority of Uganda’s telecommunications network, including their biggest telecom companies,
🎯🚀 MTN Uganda (AS20294)
🎯🚀 Airtel Uganda (AS37075)
🎯🚀 UGANDA TELECOM (AS21491)
⚠ Reason for the attack is Uganda hosting and legitimizing the RSF war criminal Hemedti in a diplomatic manner. Attacks on Uganda will continue as long as they continue.
⚠ We therefore claim any damage to the overall health of Uganda’s internet connectivity and telecommunications, especially for the above listed companies + any collateral damage.
The following NetBlocks live connection data shows that Uganda did face disruptions.
Both Uganda Telecom and MTN saw dips but when the data was collected, Uganda Telecom was back to 98% but MTN still languished at 34%.
This is modern warfare my friend. These kind of cyber attacks are normal now and one can’t help but wonder how Zimbabwean telecommunications companies would fare against such attacks.
The internet in this country has been disrupted before. However, in our mobile networks’ defense, that was allegedly the Zimbabwean govt’s doing. The MNOSs were compelled to follow the given shutdown orders.
What a crazy little world we live in.