News Brief

Has Liberia Been Knocked Off Line? Not Exactly.

Liberia's internet has been attacked by the same malevolent hackers that shut down many American sites last month. What's going on?

The world is freaking out about a cyber attack that has shut down Liberia's internet multiple times over the last week. The perpetrator is something called a botnet. Named Mirai #14, this network has been flooding Liberia's minimal internet infrastructure with traffic, causing periodic jams.


According to researchers it appears to be run by the same group of hackers that managed to shut down many large sites across the American East Coast last month—another practice run, perhaps, for taking down an even larger target.

Most news reports are based on research by security expert Kevin Beaumont who has been documenting the attack. Here's what he had to say:

Over the past week we’ve seen continued short duration attacks on infrastructure in the nation of Liberia. Liberia has one internet cable, installed in 2011, which provides a single point of failure for internet access. From monitoring we can see websites hosted in country going offline during the attacks — additionally, a source in country at a Telco has confirmed to a journalist they are seeing intermittent internet connectivity, at times which directly match the attack. The attacks are extremely worrying because they suggest a Mirai operator who has enough capacity to seriously impact systems in a nation state.

Lost in most of these hyperbolic tech articles about the disasters befalling the Liberian internet are Liberians themselves. I reached out to friends in Monrovia over social media and the response is a mixed bag. Many said they couldn't distinguish the cyber attacks from the regular ups and downs of Liberia's notoriously inconsistent internet coverage. Others said it's been bad.

Gboko Stewart, a local journalist and radio personality told me it "has been completely disruptive. Facebook and other social networks have been a problem—difficult to access. Even gmail."

Meanwhile Stewart is live streaming Hot FM's weekend live show straight from Broad Street, Monrovia with seemingly little interruption. That can't be said about Okayafrica's own live streams using New York City internet.

Illustration by Aaron Leaf

Popular
Image courtesy of artist.

Interview: In The Beginning Was Manana

Manana on his debut album 'In The Beginning Was The End', a relatable love story narrated backwards.

Ndumiso Manana had just purchased a microphone to complete his home studio setup when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a hard lockdown in 2020.

Unable to tour with his Seba Kaapstad family due to travel restrictions implemented as part of measures to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, he did what many musicians in his circles, and around the world, were doing: he diverted his attention to something else.

In his case, the diversion led to one of 2020's most beguiling releases, In The Beginning Was The End, an album so perfect, so polished yet raw; so whole yet sparse; so sophisticated yet, strangely, relatable.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Several Cultural Figures Sign Petition Supporting Ghana's LGBT Community

Naomi Campbell, Idris Elba, Edward Enninful and several others have signed a petition calling on Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo to support and protect the LGBT community which is under continued targeting.