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Government reviews website security


Defaced ... The Finance Ministry website after it was invaded by hackers

04/01/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Action ... ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa
 
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INFORMATION Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa says Zimbabwe is making efforts to increase security on its government websites to prevent cyber attacks.

A cyber activist group called Anonymous says it brought down government websites last week to protest a decision by Grace Mugabe, wife of the President, to sue The Standard newspaper for US$15 million for reporting details of a cable posted online by the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks.

The 2008 cable by the former US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee alleged that she, along with Gideon Gono, the central bank governor, ''reaped tremendous profits'' making ''several hundred thousand dollars a month'' from the sale of illegal diamonds mined in the politically sensitive Marange district. They both strongly deny the claims.

Chamisa said Monday that they are "dealing with" threats by the pro-WikiLeaks group to cripple the websites.
 
He said: "Obviously these actions are illegal, not just in Zimbabwe but anywhere else in the world.
 
"There are better methods to show solidarity with a cause or campaign, and this is not one of them."

Most of the government's websites were up and running Monday in a nation where power outages and technology breakdowns are common.

But Anonymous carried out their threat on Thursday and Friday last week, targeting the Finance Ministry website, www.zimtreasury.org, and a little-known government portal, www.gta.gov.zw.

The Finance Ministry website was offline for some 40 hours after being hacked and defaced. The defacement stripped all other news content and offered a message that said simply: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”

The message also included a declaration of love for someone, signed by the individual who is said to have performed the defacement.

The government portal appeared to be hit by a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack in which hackers try to knock a site offline by overwhelming it with data.

Anonymous last month blocked the web portals of some credit card companies, including PayPal, that restricted payments to WikiLeaks.



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