Logo of the e-citizen website

E-Citizen Attack: How Cyber Insecurity Enables Inaccessibility

The government of Kenya’s e-services is under attack. The e-Citizen platform, which hosts several essential public services and sensitive data, came under a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. For days now, no one can access these crucial services online. A collective of hackers claiming to be associated with Anonymous Sudan took responsibility.

By Thursday, 27th of July, Kenyans could not buy electricity tokens due to a network outage. Transactions on M-Pesa and some mobile banking platforms also became inaccessible. Services such as payments and revenue collections were negatively impacted.

Many had to find cash alternatives to digital banking services and mobile payments. The magnitude of interference raises concerns about the government’s readiness to transition to digital financial services in a secure and well-planned manner.

The lack of dependability of government services provided online is a cause for concern, especially for individuals with a disability. For instance, non-disabled individuals would have little trouble seeking physical alternatives to digital transactions. It is a more significant challenge for persons with physical disabilities and those with hearing and speech disabilities who now have to contend with potential communication and physical barriers.

In a conversation on KICTANet’s Mailing List about the troubles with e-Citizen, KICTANet trustee Victor Kapiyo commented,

The e-Citizen portal has been down since yesterday. I haven’t seen any official communication explaining the downtime. Anyone knows why? A critical site like it should have 99.9% uptime, and any downtime should be communicated

The sentiments came at a time when there was no official communication from the government despite Kenyans speculating for days whether the service was down.

While some downtime in digital services is expected, prompt communication can mitigate many losses and inconveniences.

Grace Githaiga, KICTANet Convenor, highlighted the case of Uganda Immigration. The department promptly informed the country about the downtime in passport and e-visa services and offered solutions. The services were restored shortly after.

The Kenya cybersecurity fraternity advocating for better measures against online threats is hopeful that their efforts will be taken seriously now that the seriousness of the situation is apparent.

Kenya has a wealth of cybersecurity talents who, if given sufficient opportunity, can prevent and counter the attacks we are witnessing.

The sustained DDoS attack in Kenya rendered digital services unavailable to its intended users. The lack of communication for extended periods compounded this problem. Weak cybersecurity practices contribute to the inaccessibility of digital services for people with disabilities who use technology to overcome various barriers to social inclusion and participation.


Florence Awino information

Florence is the Digital Accessibility Program officer at KICTANet. She wants you to be an a11y.

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