JUBA, MAY 15, 2023 (SUDANS POST) – A report by the United Nations Panel of Experts on South Sudan has documented increase in cyberattacks against South Sudan’s independent media, and highlighted government role in these attacks.
In the report released on Thursday, May 4, 2023, the Panel said in February alone, two South Sudan outlets were attacked in what appeared to be a targeted action, indicating that no perpetrator was named in these breaches.
“In February 2023, the social media sites of two major South Sudanese media outlets, Radio Tamazuj and Sudans Post, as well as the private page of at least one senior editor, were hacked. Pages were defaced across multiple platforms, and some content was deleted,” the Panel said.
“No perpetrators have been identified or have claimed responsibility. Both outlets, however, observed an increase in cyberattacks in the days following their reporting of high-profile security incidents in South Sudan,” it added.
In early February, just a day before Pope Francis’ landmark visit to South Sudan, Sudans Post reported about a deadly attack in which cattle herders killed 21 civilians in Kajo-keji County of the country’s Central Equatoria State.
A few days later, Sudans Post’s Facebook account and that of its editor in chief were hacked.
The location of the new page manager (or the hacker) first appeared to be South Sudan, before other managers from Philippines and Vietnam appeared. The attack took place after security operatives asked Sudans Post editor to remove contents regarding the killing ahead of Pope’s visit.
Days later, Radio Tamazuj’s Twitter handle was also hacked.
In its report, the UN Panel of Experts said attack on Sudans Post and Radio Tamazuj is a part of a broader trend of attacks against independent media and activists, and highlight the roles played by the ministry of information, the national communication authority, and the national security service.
“The attacks mirror a broader trend observed by a range of South Sudanese civil society activists and organizations. According to a recent study conducted by South Sudanese civil society organizations, ‘impersonation’, social media hacking and ‘reputational’ attacks are the most common forms of cybercrime in the country, with a recent increase noted,” the Panel said.
“The National Security Service, the National Communications Authority and the Ministry of Information and Postal Services have worked together to strengthen Government’s control over the Internet and online information flows.
“In recent months, senior representatives from both the Authority and the Ministry have forged new regional partnerships to improve their capabilities, consolidate the Government’s grip on the Internet infrastructure and work collaboratively on cybersecurity threats,” it added.
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