Modern field guide to security and privacy

Kenyan raid exposes hive of cybercrime

The discovery of what police dub a cybercrime command center comes as Kenya experiences a wave of computer crime.

A deadly fire is all that betrayed a suspected Chinese hacker group in Kenya believed to be trying to infiltrate banks, mobile money transfer networks, and ATMs.

So far, police have arrested and charged 77 Chinese nationals in connection with activities in an upscale Nairobi suburb. During the raids, police found soundproof rooms fashioned like military dorms that were full of computer equipment and outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, which is uncommon in Kenya.

The discovery of what police call a cybercrime command center comes as Kenya is experiencing a wave of computer crime, with criminal hackers carrying out phishing campaigns to extort money from citizens and launching attacks on banks. The arrests are a fortunate break for a police force struggling to contain the problem.

Kenya loses $22.8 million annually to computer crime, according to a recent report on cybersecurity from Serianu Limited, a Kenyan IT and business consulting firm. In 2013 alone, the company found, bank customers lost $17 million through fraudulent schemes involving their employees. It said the number of cyberattacks there has climbed to 5.4 million in 2013 from 2.6 million in 2012.

Cybercrime in Kenya​ has been "going on unnoticed for sometime," says Richard Tutah, a security expert. "People have lost lots of money through this crime. The ordinary people take it for granted, but they will not from now on. We have to take this very seriously and fight it with same zeal as we are fighting terrorism."

In Kenya, the perpetrators of computer fraud and criminal hacks are rarely found or arrested, say experts. In this recent case, fire blamed on a malfunctioning computer server revealed the suspects. With the fire spreading quickly, killing one person, the Chinese nationals refused help from their Kenyan neighbors, creating suspicion that prompted them to call the police.

An eyewitness who visited the houses following the fire said computer equipment was everywhere inside. “There were seven houses being used by the Chinese. I think some escaped the raid,” says the witnesses, who did not want to be named.

So far, charges facing the suspects include being in Kenya illegally and running radio equipment without the necessary permit. Prosecutors say they will add more charges for the remanded suspects, as they moved to the High Court, seeking bail.

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xiafana was called by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain if his government was aware of the suspects, who held Chinese passports. There's no indication that they were connected to the Chinese government.


You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Kenyan raid exposes hive of cybercrime
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today