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A cyberattack hits government sites in Senegal

Claimed by hacktivists affiliated with Anonymous, the offensive rendered a dozen sites inaccessible, including those of the presidency and several ministries.

Cybercrime - June 28, 2023

In the late evening of May 26, 2023, Senegal suffered a large-scale cyber attack on its government sites. The incident rendered inaccessible all the sites of the Presidency, as well as those of the Ministries of the Armed Forces, Environment, Infrastructure, and Agriculture. Also affected were the sites of the Government Secretariat, the Government Information Office, the National Geographic Data Management Infrastructure, and Le Dantec Hospital.

The attack was claimed by the Mysterious Team, a group of hacktivists based in Bangladesh and affiliated to Anonymous. They claim to have acted in support of the “Senegalese people”, who are fighting against their leaders, “who are clinging to power beyond the terms provided for by the Constitution”.

Senegalese President Macky Sall is considering running for a third term in the 2024 elections. During his first term, however, a constitutional reform limited the number of consecutive presidential terms to two. The president’s party argues that the first term, which began before the reform, “does not count”.

What all the affected sites have in common is that they all have “.gouv.sn” addresses, and are managed by the same government agency, Sénégal Numérique (Senum). On May 27, 2023, government spokesman Abdou Karim Fofana confirmed that the sites were undergoing a large-scale DDoS attack. He also indicated that the Senum teams were working to restore service. While access to the Presidency sites was restored during the day on May 27, the other affected sites were still inaccessible at 11:30 a.m. on May 29.

Late on May 28, Anonymous’ official Twitter account confirmed its support for the hacktivists. “Senegalese citizens must be respected and free to choose their destiny. We will not allow Macky Sall’s dictatorship to take over Senegal“, Anonymous added.

Later the same day, news of the disappearance of Macky Sall’s main opponent, Ousmane Sonko, triggered a new series of Mysterious Team attacks on the morning of May 29. They hit the GFM news website, the Senegalese post office, and even, according to the hacktivists, the French post office website. “We’re giving the Senegalese government 24 hours to find or free Sonko. If you don’t do this, you’re going to see something very surprising. Do you want to see your cyberspace destroyed?“, threatened Mysterious Team.

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