Chakwera’s hacking claim ignites fire

…Immigration Chiefs accuse staff of helping ‘hackers’

…Staff say Bendulo, Kalumo engineered the hack

Hours after President Lazarus Chakwera told the world that Malawi passports were now in the hands of ‘hackers’ a war of words has ensued, with Immigration Department accusing own staff of working with “malicious external actors” to hack the passport system.

The Immigration staff have told The Investigator Magazine that President Chakwera needs to fire its Chief immediately, retired Brigadier General Charles Kalumo and Office of the President and Cabinets Digital lead Anthony Bendulo, as they are the “real hackers” of the embarrassing turn of events.

Bendulo tried to bypass the system and ends up messing it up
Brig. Gen Kalumo (rtd): At the helm of Immigration Department

According to the staff, apart from paying breach of contract to supplier Techno Brain, Malawians will not have to cough millions of kwachas again to replace three to five servers that were “fried” during the experiment by Bendulo and company to bypass the Techno Brain system.

“The President was lied to, all Malawians were lied to. Nobody hacked the system. Now, they are trying to find a scapegoat for their silly adventure. If the man at the State House has any sense of salvaging his dignity as a president, he needs to act rationally rather than peddling the lies he is being told. So far, it looks like he is the only Malawian who believes in the story of hackers,” said a senior staff member from Immigration.

Two staff members speaking separately claimed Bendulo was one in charge of trying the bypass in mid-January and that after they failed, they reported to Techno Brain, who sent their engineers who detected an intrusion into their system, and it shut down.

“During this attempted jacking of the system, it was very amateurish. They burnt three to five servers in the process. We need to buy the servers and pay Techno Brain for the breach. It is straightforward. People should demand to see the qualifications of the President’s ICT team. I don’t think they have real qualifications,” challenged one of the officers.

President Chakwera shocked Malawians on Wednesday when he lied in Parliament that hackers demanding ransom from the government had been responsible for the downing of the passport system at Immigration for over a month.

“Techno Brain is saying, buy the servers, pay us the money now; the system will run within a week. The problem is paying for the silly game they initiated. They don’t want Techno Brain. They have been clear about it. The best thing to do was to finish the current contract. But it seems MCP is in a hurry to raise campaign funds, now every childish strategy keeps backfiring,” said another senior Immigration official.

An official statement released through the Ministry of Information on Wednesday evening declared that investigations revealed that the problem was due to a sophisticated ransomware attack and that it would bring the perpetrators to justice.

official statement released through the Ministry of Information

“This incident was exacerbated by internal collaboration with external malicious actors,” said the statement, accusing its Immigration staff of collaborating with their own “hackers” to damage the passport system.

After the passport degrading speech from President Chakwera, Malawians are waiting for the next episode of the hacking scandal and what the Immigration Department and staff will release next.

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