The Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA) has said a group that was browsing websites in connection with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has since attempted a cyberattack on 37,000 computers.
INSA said the hackers, who mounted their attack on June 1, are known as the ‘Cyber Horus’ group. Their objective is to sow confusion in Ethiopia around the filling and operation of the Dam.
Cyber Horus has a previous form, having combined with another group known as “Anubis” in another cyberattack between June 17 and 20 of last year.
Their collective aim was again to put pressure on Ethiopia over its dispute with Egypt over GERD, according to the Agency. The 2020 attack targeted 13 websites, including security agencies, public service institutions and private companies.
Ethiopian authorities are concerned Cyber Horus is again attempting to undermine relations between Egypt and Ethiopia after negotiations earlier this year left the future of the dam unresolved, according to the statement from INSA.
Addis Zeybe asked Yared Sirak, a software engineer, for an explanation on how this type of cyberattack was mounted.
“Cyberattacks are malicious Internet operations launched mostly to disrupt operations of a certain company,” he said. “Countries also get involved in so-called state-sponsored cyber-attacks, where they seek to learn classified information on a geopolitical rival such as what is happening in Ethiopia now.”
During such acts, the attacker or hacker group targets the victim’s Internet infrastructure. One prime target, for instance, is a country’s electrical power grid or data, according to Yared.
Such attacks are a worry for governments around the world. Sophisticated, multi-vector targeting can knock out a country’s IT and electrical infrastructure. Or even a dam, explained the engineer,
“Due to global connectivity, preventing such acts is a must since cyberattacks will harm the economic and political aspects of a country,” he added.
INSA in collaboration with the Ethiopian Media Agency held a meeting with media managers and owners today to discuss ways to ward off cyberattacks on the media, which are among the targets of the attackers.