Beware of Rwanda’s MINADEF and NISS viruses /spyware

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The MINADEF (ministry of defense of Rwanda) represented by Major Caple Karangwa (c.karangwa@minadef.gov.rw) and Fred. A. K. (fred.ak@state.gov.rw) of NISS (Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Services) acquired a very invasive spyware called “RCS: Remote Control System V5.1) in 2012, which they use until today. In case you probably knew this already, that’s so great.

The spyware attacks, infects, controls and monitors the computers and smart phones remotely. It reads your emails, your sms and Skype/Facebook messages. Oh, it also listens to your phone calls (eavesdropping)! RCS was sold to them by an Italian company “The Hacking Team” founded in 2003.

I guess you probably ever wondered why some of your private emails were shared online. Think no further. I personally saw some emails from the Rwanda opposition figures exposed online. The author of the article “Mr. Gahiji” on thenewsofrwanda.com claimed on June 22, 15 that the emails leaked online while he got them from either Caple or Fred using the RCS 5.1V.

Rwanda is not the only potential customer. Ethiopia is one of the early adopters in Africa. During Meles Zenawi regime, an opposition figure in New York found his files on his personal laptop gone. He later on found out the Ethiopian intelligence service used RCS tool to collect and delete some of his files. The hacking team markets the tool as an offensive security monitoring system. Indeed, it is!!

In the rest of East Africa, Mr. Eric Mwangi of Cyber security Department, Office of the President Uhuru Kenyatta purchased the RCS for the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of the government of Kenya. As far as I could recall, the company was still negotiating the deals with the government of Uganda and DRC (Congo).

Please be aware of this intrusion and be careful about how you communicate with your beloved ones. You are the target. Be very protective. Update your anti-viruses and do not click on any link or an attachment from the untrusted source. In case of unusual activity on your device, scan it or just turn it off for a while. Immediately uninstall or delete any suspicious apps. Interchange devices and use some unlisted phone numbers for your safety especially while discussing highly sensitive issues.

By Bertin Mugabire

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