Letter from Zimbabwe: Inside The Deteriorating Situation Unfolding Inside The Country

An online activist and regular reader of Rogue Media Labs going by the name of “Jamelia Libya K” sent me the following letter this morning, outlining the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe from the perspective of a Zimbabwean refugee with many friends and family left behind in the country.

Full Letter:

I am an activist from Zimbabwe, I write to you as a human being observing a crisis unfolding. I am deeply appalled, shocked and hurt with the worsening situation in Zimbabwe.

The people have been protesting against inflation and unbearable hardships they have been encountering quietly. They are fed up of being governed by this failing Zanu government. The president himself is on a business tour at this vital moment. Vice President Chiwenga is in charge. He is previously the Army Commander General.

Everyone in the diaspora is convinced he has ordered the internet shutdown, there has been no social media all day. This is because reports have been pouring in from Monday night that the army, police and masked men have been kidnapping, harassing, torturing civilians and intimidating them not to protest.

Pictures of dead bodies have been circulating. As I speak, people in diaspora are afraid and panicking for their loved ones. Please bring attention to Zimbabweans crying and begging for help, we need International intervention.

Regards,
Linda Dodzo

As was reported by Human Rights Watch on January 15th 2019, “Zimbabwe security forces fatally shot at least five people and wounded 25 others during a crackdown on nationwide protests beginning January 14, 2019.” However, other reports from the region indicate that at least 8 were killed, and more than 200 were arbitrarily arrested. Similar in many ways to the situation across France, the protests arose as a result of the Zimbabwean Governments decision to raise fuel prices by 150% on January 12th 2019, sparking mass protests around the country.

In response to the protests, just as was the case in the Democratic Republic of The Congo in December 2018 and Central African Republic earlier this month, the Zimbabwean Government has ordered a complete internet shutdown across the country. Effective January 15th 2019, President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered a 72 hour moratorium on any/all internet activity inside the country, including social media and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services – such as WhatsApp.

This also isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened. For example, in the summer of 2016 I remember reporting when the Government of Zimbabwe suffered from full economic collapse, leading to the revolt of thousands of public sector workers across the country- protesting against weeks of unpaid wages, essentially completely shutting down the country/government in doing so. For some perspective on the situation, at the time it was also reported that the country was operating at a 90% unemployment rate. Once again however, then just as is it is today, the Zimbabwean Government shut down and restricted national internet access in order to prevent protest movements from growing larger and prevent media from reporting on a carnage.

I also remember that these events caught the attention of the Anonymous hacker collective, whom proceeded to launch a series of online attacks against the Government of Zimbabwe – shutting down critical government infrastructure for as long of the government was willing to shut down public internet access. As a result, once again today just as it was before, the Zimbabwean people are calling on the internet community and Anonymous for help – to stand up for their rights and fight back against their oppressive Government. This is why I am publishing this article here today, to do what I can to raise awareness on their behalf and educate the international public about the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe. What happens from here remains to be seen.

DRC Shuts Down Media Outlets, Restricts National Internet Access Following December 31st Election

(AI) – Following further closures of media outlets and a mounting crackdown on internet and mobile messaging in the wake of elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Joan Nyanyuki said:

The authorities in the DRC must immediately reopen all media outlets and reinstate all blocked communications channels. People must be allowed to freely access and exchange information including online as they wait for election results. This attack on freedom of expression and media freedom risks exacerbating an already tense and volatile situation.

“Now more than ever the Congolese people need assurance that the authorities are genuinely committed to the respect for human rights and allowing people to access information from diverse sources and communicate freely is a key part of that. The DRC authorities must uphold the right to freedom of expression and media freedom at this critical juncture in the country’s history.

Background

The DRC authorities shut down internet connection and SMS services countrywide on 31 December in a bid to stop what it termed “rumour mongering” about the election outcome.

On 1 January, they also cut off the signal of Radio France Internationale (RFI), an independent foreign radio station which is popular in the DRC. On 2 January, the signal of two TV channels belonging to opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba – Canal Congo TV (CCTV) and Canal Kin TV – were cut off.

The DRC is anxiously awaiting the outcome of the election, with provisional results originally expected on 6 January. The results may now be delayed due to logistical issues, according to the electoral commission CENI.


This article was originally published by Amnesty International on January 3rd 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Government of Sudan Shuts Down National Internet Access, So Anonymous Shuts Down The Government

This Christmas the Government of Sudan had the entirety of their internet infrastructure hacked and taken offline, more than 260 Government domains in total. Not only this, but two of the country’s largest television news network, Sudania 24 and the Sudan News Agency, have also been hacked and taken offline. The cyber attacks are a result of a joint operation between multiple international hackers and hacking groups, namely Lorian Synaro, Anonymous CyberGuerrilla and the AnonOps IRC. The operation itself stems from a December 19th decision by the Government of Sudan to restrict national internet access and block access to social media applications – actions which have continued on through today.

As for why they did this, at the present moment in time there are rumblings of a revolt or revolution throughout Sudan, something that the current Sudanese regime, whom has been in political power for the last 30 years, does not want to see happen. Consequentially, as more and more people have started taking to the streets, and as these protests have grown larger, the Government of Sudan has begun sealing off/restricting internet access Nationwide whilst simultaneously blocking access to social media applications to prevent protesters from organizing with or coordinating to work with one another to make the movement larger.

Observing this from afar was something that internet community simply could not tolerate, so activists around the world got together and did what they could to begin fighting back in support of the oppressed people of Sudan. Beginning December 22nd, Anonymous CyberGuerrilla organized chatrooms on the ClearNet and IRC, AnonOps prepared a care package, Rogue Media Labs manipulated social media algorithms to land said care packages and chatrooms across Sudan’s border while Lorian Synaro put word out to all Anonymous to stand up and participate – which is exactly what they did.

As previously mentioned, starting Christmas morning Anonymous launched a massive and coordinated hacking campaign against the Government of Sudan, managing to take down over 260 Sudanese Government websites and knock several state run news outlets offline. Not only this, but thousands of individuals across Africa have signed up for and begun learning more about cyber security and how to freely bypass Government implemented controls or restrictions on their systems. On through December 26th 2018, the Government of Sudan remains under attack, the care packages continue to be pushed throughout Africa and much of Sudan’s Governmental infrastructure remains inaccessible. Meanwhile, the citizens of Sudan are currently organizing massive protests and demonstrations across the country for December 30th 2018.

In a message attached to the operation, Anonymous hackers stated the following:

We are communicating with you today because something is very wrong with Sudanese Government. We can not tolerate injustice, inequality, and denial of the peoples rights. The Sudanese Government is restricting free speech and seeking to limit and control internet access. This Government is even punishing the people for expressing their ideas and opinions. We will fight back! In response to Sudan’s situation, we are issuing a wide call to protest. We will protest against this Government, it’s blasphemy laws, censorship laws, restrictions on internet access, restriction to internet access, and any and thought crime legislation.

We are Anonymous
We are Legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
To the Government of Sudan, expect us.

Massive and coordinated attack against the central government of Sudan. More than 260 Government domains have been #Downed. We will have no mercy. You have killed innocent protesters, now it’s time to pay for it.

Sudan Government Hit List: https://www.hastebin.com/acolilixac.sql

https://twitter.com/CgAn_Doemela/status/1076580410166001664?s=19


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New Study: Only 24.1% of Yemeni Citizens Currently Have Access To The Internet

Earlier this week, along with the help of Citizen Lab, Shodan, VirusTotal, Censys, ReversingLabs and Rapid7, Recorded Future published their latest research paper. Officially entitled “Underlying Dimensions of Yemen’s Civil War: Control of the Internet,” the paper chronicles the devastating effects of years of War on Yemen internet infrastructure, usage and connectivity. Among other topics, the report details how control of the internet in the country has shifted over the years, as well as how the internet landscape has shifted as different Waring factions have taken control over different portions of the country.

Key Findings/Statistics:

  • Since taking Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in September 2014, the Houthi rebels have controlled YemenNet – Yemens main ISP.
  • Houthi rebels continue to use what’s left of YemenNet’s IP infrastructure to host Coinhive mining services in order to generate revenue to fund their War effort.
  • The Houthi Government controls about 500 “official” Yemeni Government websites through the .ye domain.
  • In June 2018 the Hadi government created an entirely new ISP called AdenNet to counteract Houthi internet controls.
  • Only a small percentage of internet users in Yemen have the skills or knowledge to utilize VPNs, Tor, or routers with DNS recursion to circumvent government controls/surveillance.
  • Major international players, including the United States, Russia, and China have deployed malware/spyware as a means to supplement military efforts and/or leverage political opponents/dissidents.
  • Dating back to 2015, the “Yemen Cyber Army” has emerged as a major player launching attacks against government agencies.
  • Yemen ranks 50th global in population, but 148th in domain registrations.
  • The Houthi Government continues to block public access to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Since the Yemeni Civil War first began, roughly 80% of all fiber optic cables have been destroyed.
  • Only 24.3% of Yemeni citizens currently have access to the internet in 2018, up from 19.1% in 2014.
  • Roughly 50% of Yemeni citizens have access to cellular phones and/or landlines.

Download Full Research Paper Here: https://go.recordedfuture.com/hubfs/reports/cta-2018-1128.pdf

Read Full Study:

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How The Kim Regime Has Circumvented Internet Restrictions & Economic Sanctions To Advance The Nations Cyber Agendas

Earlier this summer I was explaining North Korea as a country of “Macgyver’s” in that, due to the extreme economic sanctions, military blockades and restrictions enforced upon them, many of the countries intellectual elite often times has to learn how to make something out of nothing. Unlike in the United States for example, North Korea’s Government and scientists can not afford to waste a single dime, and every operation undertaken under the general scope of their Government must be allocated as proficiently as humanly possible – they have no other choice. However, for these same reasons, extreme economic hardship often times has a way of producing some of the worlds most innovative work, because countries like North Korea often times have to find new ways of doing things or circumventing obstacles that other countries simply do not have to deal with.

To this effect, a new study by Recorded Future has analyzed the inner workings of the North Korean Government and the movements of their computer scientists over the course of the last year and a half. While North Korea remains literally THE hardest intelligence agency to penetrate, researches have managed to uncover some interesting facts about them nonetheless. Dating back to 2017, what researchers have uncovered is that North Korean data/computer scientists are turning to crypto-currencies en masse to do business with one another, or outside countries. This is done simply to circumvent the harsh economic sanctions imposed on them by outside countries, such as the United States. Additionally, according to the report featured below, Recorded Future has found that North Korea’s Government is implanting advanced hackers and computer scientists in different countries throughout the world – though primarily in Asia. Essentially, scientists and internet engineers are being disguised as manual laborers whom go to work in construction during the day, and then return home to run cyber orations at night. In order to maximize the damage their hackers or scientists can do, the North Korean Government knows that it has to export them to outside countries in order to get past internet restrictions as they exist inside North Korea.

As Recorded Future‘s executive summary reads, “The Kim regime has developed a model for using and exploiting the internet that is unique, and leadership are quick to embrace new services or technologies when useful and cast them aside when not.” Adding that “We discovered that North Korea’s ruling elite are technologically savvyuse a full range of older and cutting-edge computers, phones, and devicesuse the internet as a tool for sanctions circumvention, and recently shifted to embrace Chinese social networking services over Western ones.” It is an interesting and unique study that you do not come across everyday, certainly worth taking a look at.

Read Full Study:

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