Sierra Leone government bank threatened by cyber attack

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 January 2020:

On Sunday, 5th January 2020,  Sierra Leone government’s Commercial Bank published a statement informing its customers that its website had been attacked by unknown persons. But there are suspicions that the attack may have come as a result of US killing of Iranian military general Soleimani in Iraq.

The management of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank said that none of its customers’ records and data were affected and that it is conducting a thorough investigations. In the meantime the bank is open for business.

This is what the Bank said: “The Sierra Leone Commercial Bank Limited (SLCB) is aware that its official website was hacked in the early hours of this morning (Sunday, 5th January 2020) by a group claiming to be Shield Iran. Our website, slcb.com, is hosted externally by a service provider in the United States; and therefore, we believe this attack was carried out by hackers based in Iran, in retaliation to the killing of the Iranian Military General, Qassem Soleimani.

“We hereby assure the public that none of our other systems or services has been affected. The Bank’s technical staff are working assiduously alongside our external contractors and service providers to restore our website within the next 24 hours. Although we do not believe that the bank is a primary target in this attack, we are giving the situation our utmost attention.

“Additional information will be released to the public through the media as it becomes available. Please be assured that no sensitive personal information was kept on the website. The Bank will continue its normal operations and is open to the public on Monday, January 6th, 2020 at 8:30am as usual.”

Questions are being asked about the Global and geo-political significance of a cyber attack on Sierra Leone’s banking sector, as Iran promised to retaliate against the Americans following the killing of the Iranian general. What would Iran gain by attacking a bank in Sierra Leone?

Today, the Government of Sierra Leone, through its ministry of information issued this statement:

“The attention of the MIC has been drawn to a cyber incident involving the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) official website (www.slcb.com) which occurred on the 5th January 2020. The compromise is attributed to a group claiming to be “Shield Iran”.

“This incident led to a temporal unavailability of the website that is hosted by a service provider based in the USA. However, this incident had no impact on SLCB operations and online banking applications. The web site is an information-only portal with no direct or indirect access to any banking operation assets. It also holds no sensitive information.

“This incident has been thoroughly investigated by a joint technical team from the Ministry of Information and Communications Cyber Unit and the SLCB Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT) that have taken immediate and appropriate actions to reinforce existing security measures to mitigate any potential impact.

“It is worthy to note that the SLCB is working earnestly with the service provider to restore the website.

“The Cyber Security Unit of the Ministry of Information and Communications would like to inform the general public that stringent measures and modalities have been put in place to prevent future attacks on National Critical Information Infrastructure (NCII) in the country.

“The Government would like to assure its citizens that it will continue to put in place the necessary modalities to ensure the continuing protection of all personal and official data at all times.”

2 Comments

  1. I think to trace out the cyber attack on Sierra Leone central Bank, the Bank needs to install another operative system called LINUX. This somehow eliminates all types of interference to the bank operations. Only by doing so can the bank prove to be safe.

  2. Just spoke with my cousin Mr. Tamba Matturi(Phd student in Digital forensic and cyber security) who told me that, the attack might not necessarily come from the Iran threat. However, he said he was glad that everything is now under control. He will be home for a short time to do some research and I reckon, he will surely contact the SLCB. Cyber security is one of the areas that our government should try to train many Sierra Leoneans.
    God bless all those who helped with the situation.

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