AU Says China Hacking Its Headquarters

The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, which was built by China as a $200 million gift was opened nearly six years ago. But now AU says Beijing has been hacking the complex ever since it was inaugurated in 2012. China denies the allegation. (Getty Images)

Financial Times

African Union accuses China of hacking headquarters

African Union officials have accused China of hacking its headquarters’ computer systems every night for five years and downloading confidential data. Beijing funded the AU’s $200m building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while a Chinese state-owned company built it.

Analysts said the fact that the hack remained secret for a year after being discovered and that the AU was not commenting publicly demonstrated China’s dominant relationships with African states.

The data theft was exposed by French newspaper Le Monde Afrique and confirmed to the Financial Times on Monday. China denied the accusation.

The hack underscores the risk African nations take in allowing Chinese technology companies such prominent roles in developing their telecoms backbones, despite the US placing restrictions on investment by Huawei and ZTE.

The two companies have “built most of Africa’s telecoms infrastructure”, according to a McKinsey report on Chinese investment in Africa published last year.

Le Monde reported that data transfer activity was at a peak every night between midnight and 2am from January 2012, when the building was inaugurated, to January 2017.

AU technicians discovered the organisation’s secrets were being copied on to servers in Shanghai, according to the article.

The AU has now acquired its own servers and all electronic communication is now encrypted and no longer passes through Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s state-run operator. Other enhanced security features have also been installed.

Read more »

China denies bugging African Union headquarters it built in Ethiopia (CNN)
China rejects claim it bugged headquarters it built for African Union (The Guardian)

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