By infiltrating, in June, the digital data of the Malian General Directorate of Taxes, Russian computer hackers organized the leak of documents concerning more than 312,000 taxpayers. The approach is clearly villainous. A ransom demand is made, a countdown of “five days and twelve hours before the publication of the documents” is put online and dozens of files are leaked, on the dark web – the clandestine web –, even before until the countdown has elapsed. Maybe to sanction a bad reaction from the victim of blackmail, perhaps to demonstrate the determination of the criminals and their force of nuisance.
Mali-Russia: the “useful idiots” of Bamako, by François Soudan
The method has become as commonplace as the threat is worrying, when it comes to public institutions and subjects likely to reveal the embezzlement of influential men. And while this type of blackmail is well known, its perpetrators are just as famous: the hackers of the Lockbit 2.0 group, one of the most active cyber-extortion franchises in the world. The Russian nationality of many members of this entity would be of little importance, if the bringing together of two facts did not make it counter-intuitive, in this particular Malian case…
Close to the Kremlin
First, computer security specialists claim that the ransomware group is close to the Kremlin, spares computers located in Russia, and operates freely within the borders of former Soviet countries. Secondly, Mali and Russia seem, unofficially and officially, in full diplomatic rapprochement for a few months…
Do we extort our allies? The different channels of communication employees of Moscow – again, official or unofficial – will certainly give their version of the facts. Or not, silence being also a communication spring in the country of Vladimir Putin and African social networks – real accounts or fake accounts – taking care of the job.
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The fact remains that beyond the geopolitical dimension, this piracy raises fears of telluric aftershocks in some African countries with poorly protected digital systems. By infiltrating through a failing account, a sort of unconscious Trojan horse, hackers not only roam at will in the institutional mysteries, but also leave the door ajar to any other malevolent draft. The risk is that they give ideas to other pirates by the smell of Malian digital fragility. For the less greedy who do not have the scope to “deal” with large institutions, the infiltration, by others, of these sensitive sites gives access to endless individual blackmail. Perhaps the assault by Lockbit 2.0 will push Malians to pay their taxes. Or not…