Pro-WikiLeaks hackers attack Zimbabwe government websites

Filed Under: Denial of Service, Law & order

Robert MugabeHacktivists have struck a blow against the regime in Zimbabwe by attacking a number of government websites. The cyber-assault appears to have been in support of newspapers who published secret cables in the ongoing WikiLeaks saga, to the annoyance of the-powers-that-be in the country.

Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, was recently reported to be suing a newspaper for $15 million after it published a WikiLeaks cable that claimed she has benefited from illegal diamond trading.

As news spread amongst the loosely-knit group of Anonymous hackers who support WikiLeaks, websites belonging to the Zimbabwe government and Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party were hit by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and, in the case of the Finance Ministry, defacements.

Defaced Zimbabwe government website

The Zimbabwe government's online portal at and the official ZANU-PF website continue to be offline, and the Finance Ministry's website now displays a message saying it is under maintenance.

Zimbabwe Ministry of Finance down for maintenance

A statement published on an Anonymous website offered an explanation for the attacks, which have been dubbed "Operation: Zimbabwe":

We are targeting Mugabe and his regime in the ZanuPF who have outlawed the free press and threaten to sue anyone publishing wikileaks.

Although many people are deeply concerned about corruption in Zimbabwe, I am certain that internet attacks are not the answer.

It seems kind of ironic to me that the hackers - who are engaged in actions seemingly intended to be pro-WikiLeaks and which they say are in the name of free speech - are using denial-of-service attacks that by their very nature prevent others from communicating.

And don't forget, participating in a DDoS attack is against the law in many countries.

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20 Responses to Pro-WikiLeaks hackers attack Zimbabwe government websites

  1. I like it. But then, I support Operation Wikileaks, so I might be a bit biased.

  2. Anything to bring down that Regime.

    • I dunno about anything, man, it wasn't worth it
      when anything went against're right, though,
      the old filthbag's got to go.

  3. Are you sure it's because of WikiLeaks? I hypothesise it's because of the animated gif on their homepage, itself a vile crime against humanity that only a despot would deploy.

  4. colin johnston · 1708 days ago

    full support from me.

  5. Best news I've heard for a long time! Even if the DOS attacks are probably not having any effect on the kleptocratic Mugabe regime that is only manages to still cling to power thanks to the illicit income it earns from the "blood" diamonds of the recently discovered Maranke diamond field.

  6. freedom lover · 1707 days ago

    Dear ANONYMOUS please bring down the North Korean and Chinese government websites too - oh and Russian ones too, oh and how could I forget IRAN!

  7. DDOS the Anonymous!

    • James Bliss · 1649 days ago

      and who exactly are you going to target when attempting to DDoS Anonymous?

  8. Mrs. W · 1707 days ago

    You have a bunch of people who are very passionate about
    certain issues and who are trying to do something about them. But
    they're like 2-year-olds who pitch fits and hit and bite
    because they haven't found a way to use their words yet.
    So how do you enable Anonymous to speak out and do something about
    the things they care about in productive, legal ways?

    • Stef · 1707 days ago

      wondering the same question
      a greek :(

    • whoami · 1706 days ago

      First of all, this is not a personal attack, though words on the internets do sound that way sometimes.

      So you think telling PayPal, Visa, or Mugabe how disappointed you are in their actions would be productive?
      Tell you what. That would accomplish exactly nothing. Mugabe's been publicly criticized by people in positions of real power; has that stopped him from running his country into the ground? Has that stopped any dictator at all, ever? This space is too small to describe what PayPal, Visa, or MasterCard, or any other large business would agree to listen to, but DDoS attacks do help to get their attention; you can count on that. Now, if they actually had to, those companies might be trying to claim that they've lost $somehugeamountofmoney because of the DDoS attacks (they haven't), just like the RIAA says that filesharing costs the world economy huge amounts of dollars per year. Luckily for them, there's a law against all forms of DDoSing, so they don't have to attempt to prove that they've lost anything. Come to think of it, that law is actually a license to print money... Just like so many other laws.
      As an aside: did you know that protest marches are "illegal" in many places? It doesn't matter if what you're doing is illegal or not, as long as you're doing something good. Laws usually serve one or more of the following purposes:
      - Protect interests of people or corporations that wield power
      - Serve as a general guideline as to what is "good" and what is "bad"
      - Financial income for law enforcement/lawyers/governments/etc.
      - Enabling people in power to "cover their asses"

      • Mrs. W · 1705 days ago

        No, what I'm saying is that we need newer, better
        ways of wielding our digital power. I've watched protest
        after protest sort of fizzle. There was the day everyone was going
        to quit Facebook. And then there was the day everyone was going to
        opt out of the TSA scanners. What I'm saying is that we
        need to know what principles work and how to organize so that we
        have the maximum effect. We need something like Ushahidi ( in this
        realm. We also need a psychology of digital protest and persuasion.
        The Supreme Court recently ruled that money is free speech.
        Corporations and special interests know how to use money, because
        it's easy and direct. You just buy people. We have a
        currency that could be even more powerful, except we
        haven't figured out how to wield it yet.

    • Someone · 1706 days ago

      Direct Democracy, for starters. And create a political process where average citizens create a law project and make the population vote for or against it.

      Switzerland has a system like this. Basically, if you want to create or change a law, you first submit what your 'idea' is to the government. Then you are automatically allowed to collect signatures from people (I think you need ten thousand).
      If enough people sign your petition, the next step is to have the entire country vote on your idea. Should the majority approve of your idea, your idea is adopted and put into effect.

      This process bypasses corrupt politicians and puts politics in the hands of the people. Politicians still do their normal work and even create laws like they do now, but at anytime a simple citizen can come along, suggest a law be added or removed and his fellow citizens (not the government) will decide if this should be the case.
      I can think of several laws right now that many people in the USA (and other countries) want to change, add or remove and this is not happening. Democracy should respect the will of the majority, so why is the majority ignored for sometimes up to 10 years?
      Copyright law is an example - people feel it is being abused by corporations and does not work anymore the way it was first intended. Lots of people think that way, so why does the government just ignore them? Allowing citizens to make laws would solve this problem and perhaps would satisfy Anonymous.

      • Some democracy! · 1683 days ago

        California has a so-called "direct democracy" system too. IF you can afford to pay thousands of signature gatherers all over the state to scare up enough signatures (by convincing, cajoling, threatening and forging), your "idea" gets on the ballot and the entire state votes on it. In practice, 99% of the grand ideas that make it onto the ballot are get-rich-quick schemes for individuals who are already rich, or tax- or labor-cost-evasion schemes for corporations, or privatization schemes for some company that wants a bigger piece of the pie at the expense of public accountability and transparency. The winning ballot measures are usually characterized not by righteousness, common sense or filling a need, but by their multimillion dollar media campaigns that paint a disingenuous populist veneer over the issue.

        This is how Proposition 13 (look it up) became California's economic and educational nightmare. The actual law was written to benefit corporations and the insanely rich by freezing their property tax rates, but the genius of it was that Howard Jarvis also made it freeze everyone else's property tax rates so he could sell it as a "taxpayer's revolution". And, in fact, this was a real problem that needed fixing: California's working families were being taxed out of their homes. But the "solution" has proven to be an economic and social disaster, bankrupting our formerly-respectable public education system and leading to the travesty where the Bank of America branch downtown pays the same property tax as a single family in a residential area. Jarvis's faux-populist media campaign was so successful that many people -still- believe in its rhetoric, even after all the damage it's done.

        I am a big fan of direct democracy in theory and I think it should be pushed much further than it has been so far. In practice, though, you can't just take a shiny European idea and drop it into the American political landscape, because if it spends enough time around green money it will become American: just another fraudulent political process to be subverted by the rich in the name of the people.

        It is telling that conservatives, authoritarians and corporatists, who have organized to destroy or subvert the system of write-in candidacy in other states, praise California's wonderful proposition system until they're blue in the face.

      • GordoK · 1459 days ago

        Someone else has already commented on California's attempt at this.

        I think the notion of what has been called "initiative & referendum" is a good one, but it needs further development.

  9. Bonetastic · 1707 days ago

    Bet it was 4chan

  10. I see nothing ironic in the actions of Anonymous. Anonymous's actions have always been a response and not preemptive.Those that try to deny others free speech shall be silenced themselves.

  11. False equivalence · 1683 days ago

    It is almost incomprehensibly bizarre to me that people are lining up to shed tears over the Zimbabwe Finance Ministry's inability to get their exploitative, authoritarian message out for a few minutes or whatever. That approach is internally inconsistent; if it is bad to block a government ministry's speech, it is a million times worse for a government ministry to block its people from participating meaningfully in the political process.

    Don't fall for false equivalence. The Finance Ministry is not a person who has been wronged, it is an antidemocratic institution that works to silence the Zimbabweans every day. The obviously righteous path for a government institution is to facilitate the people's exercise of their freedoms; the obviously righteous path for a people struggling under antidemocratic institutions is to attack them vigorously and mercilessly until they crumble, and then replace them with democratic institutions. This has been the aim of every revolution, including the anti-British and anti-Communist revolutions that are so hallowed.

  12. Chuck Norris · 1459 days ago

    I think anything to bring down Mugabe is good because what Anonymous did to his site should have been done a very long time ago but it shows that he can be attacked on the web and that no where is safe (well maybe North Korea where they have no internet access to the rest of the world) on the web but if they could expose what he is doing to the world that would be good, personally I am against Anonymous but if they are hacking a tyrant I am all for it

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley