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Cyberattack Disrupts Malawi Immigration Services

22.02.2024 19:12

President Lazarus Chakwera says hackers demanding ransom from Jan. 25 attack.

Malawians still cannot access passport services Thursday following a cyberattack at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services.

President Lazarus Chakwera told parliament late Wednesday that he is "duty bound to inform Malawians that the printing of passports has been suspended because the system at the Immigration Department was hacked by digital mercenaries who infiltrated the system."

Chakwera said hackers were demanding a ransom after the Jan. 25 attack.

"The government will never pay the ransom money they have demanded because we are not in the business of appeasing criminals with public money nor are we in the business of negotiating with those who attack our country," he said.

Chakwera described the hack as "a serious national security breach" and said Malawi was not the first in the modern world to be a target of a cyberattack.

"Decisive steps to regain control of the situation have been undertaken," he said.

But civil society organizations have faulted the president for treating the issue with laxity.

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa told Anadolu that by now top officials at the Immigration Department should have been fired.

"We expected the president to reveal names of the culprits who aided the hacking. This is a serious matter," said Namiwa.

The chair of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Gift Trapence, described the situation as a serious security threat to the nation that demands a stern resolution.

"Government needs to respond to the question of assurance on data protection, which is at risk," said Trapence.

Hundreds of Malawians seeking to migrate to Israel for jobs have been forced to wait because of the suspension of passport printing. -



 
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