Sunday, June 12, 2016

BREAKING. Anonymous Africa launches cyber attack against SABC over censorship; takes down SABC, SABC News, SAfm and 5FM websites.

A hacktivist group, Anonymous Africa, has managed to take down the SABC's websites on Sunday - the official website, its SABC News website at and those of two of its radio stations, SAfm at and 5FM at

All of the sites became unavailable to netizens on Sunday afternoon in a massive cyber attack, starting with SAfm and followed by the rest - that Anonymous Africa said it carried out against the South African public broadcaster over the alleged growing censorship creep happening at the SABC.

While Mr. Robot is a fictional hit cyber hacking drama on M-Net (DStv 101) in which a hacker group targets an evil corporation, the SABC on Sunday afternoon became a real-life hacker drama of its won when its websites were taken down for several hours by Anonymous.

"Attacks against all SABC entities now underway," said a tweet from Anonymous Africa (@zim4thewin) on Sunday, claiming responsibility for the cyber shutdown of the SABC's sites that made its online news service suddenly unavailable.

"You have heard of the Arab Spring? Well now its time for the African Summer!" tweeted Anonymous Africa.

"Attacks against all SABC entities now underway," said Anonymous Africa, a group that claims to be part of the larger hacktivist network Anonymous.

"For those journalists who wanted to see something cool, check out any SABC channel, let us know if any is still up. 5FM, SABC, SAfm," said Anonymous Africa.

Anonymous said it would continue the attack to keep the SABC's websites inaccessible and unavailable until 16:00 on Sunday.

"We will stop the attacks at SABC (for now) at 4pm. We are not done yet, lots of action coming. Things are going to get wild!" said the group.

"Every time the SABC COO censor the SABC more, we are going to come back, and keep hitting harder until the SABC COO can not get up again," tweeted Anonymous Africa.

After the take-down attack of the SABC's websites started, Anonymous started suggesting songs.

The song suggestions made by Anonymous Africa carried its own meaning within the context of what was happening, with Anonymous telling people to listen to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up". ACDC's "Thunderstruck", and The Smashing Pumpkins with "Bullet with Butterfly Wings".

Zim4thewin is the same hacktivist who executed a cyber attack on the vulnerable website of the ANC political party in June 2013 for allegedly "enabling Robert Mugabe".

So far there's been no statement from the SABC.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told Fin24 on Sunday afternoon that the public broadcaster is still looking into it. "I need to check with the head of IT‚" Kaizer Kganyago told Fin24.

The SABC is technically designated a "national keypoint" by the South African government, meaning that an asset of a national keypoint of South Africa - places so designated because they require special security protection according to the South African government - has now come under attack and has not been properly protected.

Anonymous Africa said it launched what is called a "Distributed Denial of Service" or "DDos" attack against the broadcaster over its censorship decisions.

In this type of an attack, a website server is flooded with thousands of requests to deliver a website, that eventually disrupts it.

According to Anonymous Africa, its websites shutdown cyber attack against the SABC is the largest DDos attack that South Africa has ever experienced.

The cyber attack that left the SABC's websites dead in the water exposed how vulnerable the South African public broadcaster's online assets are and are raising questions about the type of cyber security used by the SABC and what the broadcaster's cyber attack backup plans are to keep its websites up in case of a DDos attack.

The SABC and its controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng has come under heavy and near universal criticism the past few weeks over highly controversial and shocking decisions at the public broadcaster that critics, academics, media experts, political parties, and civil society groups have all slammed as censorship.

A public petition that has already amassed thousands of votes and keeps growing has been started, asking the broadcasting regulator, Icasa, to invervene and to "stop SABC censorship".

As chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced that the SABC's SABC TV News will now censor visuals from public protests to no longer show property destruction and The Editors show on SAfm was abruptly cancelled last Sunday.

Meanwhile Hlaudi Motsoeneng continues to say that the SABC will follow a policy of "good stories" that must be told since the rest of South Africa's media - especially print media - focus "just on the negative".

Later on Sunday afternoon at 4:38pm the websites of the SABC and SABC News became available again, although SAfm and 5FM remained unavailable for hours longer.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told SABC news late on Sunday afternoon that "the technicians are working on it to make sure that they will be back up but also to make sure that they try and stop it from happening again."

"Because if there are people out there who are trying to destabilise SABC, it is a concerning matter, especially because we are a national keypoint," said Kaizer Kganyago.

The SABC's weekly IT and technology magazine show, Network, broadcast live on Sunday evenings on SABC News (DStv 404) completely ignored the news and made no mention and gave no coverage to what happened at the public broadcaster on Sunday and to its websites.