SHADOWY cyber terrorists have gone a notch up in their strident attempts to discredit the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) ahead of next year’s elections through clandestine actions that include hacking the electoral management body’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure.
Posing as an election watchdog, the ghostly Pachedu has openly boasted of its capacity to hack ZEC’s websites, access of which could enable them to pry on private citizens’ information and tamper with the voters’ roll.
Yesterday, through a blizzard of self-incriminating micro-blogs, Pachedu threatened to continue hacking into ZEC’s website no matter the security upgrades from the electoral management body.
“ZEC’s website is now down as they are now trying to find the bugs, but unfortunately for ZEC, we will expose more soon after they switch on. Our word for ZEC: Stop using IT security as an excuse for not releasing the voters’ roll when you know nothing about IT security,” read one of the posts on Twitter.
This is part of the organisation’s modus operandi in cahoots with opposition parties as they seek to manipulate the voters’ roll or, failure to do that, set the agenda and create a narrative that discredits next year’s elections.
Using similar tactics, Pachedu in 2018 released a doctored voters roll as they tried to undermine ZEC’s capacity.
True to their avowed mission, they are now sabre-rattling on social media platforms in a fresh bid to smear next year’s polls.
Yesterday, experts said Pachedu, a group that operates in the shadows, has not only become a threat to Zimbabwe’s elections but the country’s national security and called for appropriate action to be taken to flush out the “cyberterrorists”.
In an interview, ZEC spokesperson Commissioner Jasper Mangwana said the electoral management body is tightening security on its ICT infrastructure, starting with the website that has been breached by Pachedu.
“These faceless groups have been targeting ZEC from 2021, they had an issue of the doctored voters’ roll and they were also exposing voter information.
“They have now become a security threat because the voters roll is a key deliverable for elections. By continuously discrediting the voters’ roll, they want to make sure they control the election narrative.
“The commission is considering and looking at the depth of the attacks coming to the commission’s ICT infrastructure and we are going to report this to the Zimbabwe Republic Police. In the meantime we will be enhancing our security to make sure that we secure the voters’ information,” said Commissioner Mangwana.
In the past, Pachedu has been red-flagged by ZEC for its covert cyberwar especially as the group has a habit of publishing voters’ information which is a breach of the country’s laws.
Any abuse of the security of the voters consequently attracts legal action with ZEC charged with safeguarding voters’ private information.
According to the Data Protection Act, any person who, “knowing or suspecting that he or she must obtain prior authority to access data, computer programme, computer data storage medium, or the whole or any part of a computer system in question; and intentionally, unlawfully and without such authority, secures access to such data, programme, medium or system; shall be guilty of hacking and liable in any of the aggravating circumstances . . . to a fine not exceeding level 14 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years or both such fine and imprisonment.”
Amid revelations that some desperate political parties are working closely with Pachedu and to guard against the manipulation and abuse of the voters’ roll, the physical copy costs US$187 000, a price that does not affect any Zimbabwean voter directly or indirectly as anyone can access it online even from their mobile phones. – Herald