Chinese hackers have allegedly conducted a prolonged and extensive series of cyber intrusions targeting various ministries and state institutions within the Kenyan government, according to multiple sources, cybersecurity reports, and analysis by Reuters.
The motive behind these attacks, at least in part, is believed to be the acquisition of information regarding Kenya’s debt to Beijing. As an essential component of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, Kenya’s strategic importance in the global infrastructure network is a likely factor in these hacking attempts.
A research report from July 2021, commissioned by a defense contractor for private clients, suggested that further compromises might occur as the hackers seek insights into upcoming debt repayment strategies.
While China’s Foreign Ministry claimed to be unaware of such hacking activities, and its embassy in Britain dismissed the accusations as baseless, it emphasized that China opposes and combats cyberattacks and theft in all forms.
China’s influence in Africa has grown significantly over the past decades, with Kenya experiencing financial strains due to the mounting cost of servicing external debt, a considerable portion of which is owed to China.
The sources behind the information highlight that the hacking campaign illustrates China’s willingness to exploit its espionage capabilities to safeguard its economic and strategic interests abroad.
The attacks reportedly spanned three years, targeting eight Kenyan ministries and government departments, including the presidential office.
Research documents and technical data obtained by Reuters indicate the compromise of a server utilized exclusively by Kenya’s primary intelligence agency. Kenyan cybersecurity experts also reported similar hacking activities against the foreign and finance ministries.
While Kenya’s presidential office acknowledged frequent infiltration attempts from Chinese, American, and European hackers, it insisted that none of the attempts had been successful.
However, no further details or responses to follow-up questions were provided. The Chinese embassy spokesperson in Britain emphasized that China opposes the use of cybersecurity as a tool to sow discord and expressed China’s commitment to assisting Africa in managing its debt.