Why Hackers In War-Ravaged Sudan Knocked X (fka Twitter) Offline

By  |  August 31, 2023

A hacking group identifying as “Anonymous Sudan” has escalated its campaign by orchestrating a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, causing a more than two-hour outage on X (formerly known as Twitter). This move was aimed at pressuring Elon Musk to introduce his Starlink satellite internet service in war-ravaged Sudan.

The attack lasted for more than two hours, the BBC reports, and impacted numerous users across over a dozen countries, emphasizing the hackers’ determination to make their message heard.

The hackers conveyed their demand to Musk via Telegram, where they posted, “Make our message reach to Elon Musk: ‘Open Starlink in Sudan’.” Although their methods might be considered rudimentary, the attack underscored the group’s commitment to spotlighting the civil war’s impact on Sudan’s internet connectivity.

X has kept mum on the service outage, and Musk, who leads both X and Starlink, has not responded to questions regarding their demands to launch the satellite internet service in Sudan. According to the BBC, Downdetector, a website that tracks service interruptions, noted approximately 20,000 outage complaints were registered by individuals in the United States and the United Kingdom, indicating that a significantly larger number of people might have experienced the disruption.

Anonymous Sudan has emerged as a controversial figure, with some attributing its actions to a Russian cyber-military unit masquerading as hacktivists. However, the group has steadfastly denied these allegations and shared evidence with the BBC, including live location and passports, indicating it’s rooted in Sudan. The BBC, over weeks of conversations with the group and consultations with cybersecurity experts, says there is nothing to suggest their location and identity is not genuine.

While the group claims to be championing the defence of truth, Islam, and Sudan, its tactics have drawn both support and criticism. The hackers have targeted a range of organizations and government web services in countries including France, Nigeria, Israel, and the US. One of the more recent notable attacks orchestrated by the group saw it target Kenya for what it perceived as its government’s interference in Sudan’s internal matters. In one instance, they launched a significant attack that severely affected Kenya’s eCitizen portal, a platform utilized by the public to access over 5,000 government services, causing disruption.

Their activities encompass more than just cyber disruption; they have attempted extortion and targeted websites they perceive as promoting content contrary to their ideology.

Crush, the group’s spokesperson, emphasized that their actions aim to showcase Sudanese capabilities despite the country’s challenges. He stated, “Our long-term goal is to show the world that Sudanese people, although with limited capabilities, have very good skills in many different fields.”

As the digital landscape evolves, hacktivist groups like Anonymous Sudan are increasingly utilizing their skills to draw attention to social, political, and ideological issues. The group’s campaign to promote Starlink in Sudan reflects the dynamic fusion of technology, activism, and geopolitics in the modern cyber era.

Featured Image Credits: Hot in Juba

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