Chinese Hackers Target Kenya After Debt Issues

State Governments Pose Weak Link Between America's Infrastructure And Cyberattacks

( — According to an exclusive report from Reuters, hackers from China have been targeting the government of Kenya in a series of years-long cyber-intrusions targeting key institutions and ministries.

Based on information from three sources, as well as cybersecurity research reports and Reuters’ analysis of data related to the cyberattacks, the hacks are aimed in part at acquiring information on the debt Kenya owes to China due to its involvement in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that it was unaware of any hacking. Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in London told Reuters that the claims of hacking are “baseless” and Beijing is opposed to “cyberattacks and theft in all their forms.”

Like several African nations, Kenya’s finances are under strain due to the growing cost of servicing its external debt, most of which is owed to China.

The sources told Reuters that the ongoing hacking campaign shows that Beijing is willing to leverage is espionage capabilities to protect its strategic and economic interests abroad.

Based on the data, for three years, Chinese hackers have targeted eight ministries and government departments in Kenya, including the office of the president. One Kenyan cybersecurity expert told Reuters that there have also been cyberattacks against the finance and foreign ministries.

Kenya’s presidential office told Reuters that the hacking attempts by entities linked to Beijing are not unique, adding that Kenya’s government has also been the target of “frequent infiltration attempts” not just from China, but also from European and American hackers. However, “none of the attempts were successful,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for China’s embassy in London told Reuters that Beijing opposes “irresponsible moves” to use “topics” like cyberattacks “to sow discord” between China and “developing countries.” The spokesperson added that Beijing is aware of the “debt issue” in Africa and is working “intensively” to help African nations deal with their debt.

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