Ethiopia ‘foils’ cyber-attack on Nile dam, financial institutions

Wednesday May 04 2022
The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia.

The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. PHOTO | FILE


Ethiopian Authorities on Tuesday said they had stopped international cyber-attack attempts targeting the massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the country's major financial institutions.

“The failed cyber-attacks include attempts to impede the works of the GERD by targeting 37,000 interlinked computers used by financial institutions,” said Shumete Gizaw, the director-general of Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA).

He spoke on the state-run local media on Tuesday.

Mr Shumete alleged that an organisation sponsored by countries that "envy peace and development endeavours of Ethiopia" has declared cyber war against Addis Ababa under the motto of "Black Pyramid War". 

He, however, did not disclose the implicated sponsoring countries or the organisation or where it is based.

Previously, Addis Ababa has accused Egypt-based hackers of attempting to hack into computer systems in Ethiopia. Egypt has been vocal against the dam arguing that there was a need for an agreement on how to fill and operate the structure as it is built on the main water source for Cairo. But Ethiopia has been adamant that the water is first a sovereign project and that it will not hurt downstream countries Sudan and Egypt.


Mr Shumete said the series of attempted cyber-attacks are intended to sabotage the successful construction of the mega dam project.

He warned that cyber-attacks against the GERD might increase in the future, and that concerted cyber security was being implemented to protect both the construction and administration of works of the mega dam.

“The cyber-attacks targeting financial institutions would have caused devastating impacts if the attempted attacks succeeded,” he added.

It is not clear which Ethiopian financial institutions were targeted during cyber-attacks.

Mr Shumete, however, advised every financial institutions to implement thorough defence measures to safeguard sensitive data from cyber-attacks.

INSA, the country’s main intelligence agency, says it has thwarted more than 3,400 attempted cyber-attacks in the last six months.

In 2020, INSA said that it had successfully thwarted cyber-attacks that originated from Egypt.

The agency said Egypt-based hackers—Cyber_Horus Group, AnuBis.Hacker and Security By Passed—orchestrated the then foiled cyber-attacks.

“These groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, with the intention to create all rounded pressure on Ethiopia regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), particularly to halt filling of the dam,” INSA said in a statement in 2020.

As cyber-attacks increase against Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa nation last month hosted a meeting of eastern Africa military intelligence agencies.

The Addis Ababa meeting in mid-April was attended by Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.

During the meeting, the military intelligence agencies agreed to jointly work together to enhance security in the region and avert attacks, including cyber-attacks.