Exactly one month ago, Safaricom experienced a countrywide system outage that affected its core services, including Voice, SMS, Data, M-Pesa and Enterprise services. The two-hour outage is postulated to have cost the telco approximately KES 40 million in revenue loss.
At its FY 2016/2017 announcement, Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer stated that the outage had been caused by a failure of two of its routers during a software update. As a follow-up procedure, Safaricom has since provided its findings to regulators, including the Communications Authority and Central Bank of Kenya.
Turns out that there is another side of the story, where a Niger citizen, one Mohammed Sani aka Dr. Mustafa claims that he had a role in bringing Safaricom to its knees. The claim asserts that the outage was executed in a cell in Industrial Area Prison, where the foreigner had been remanded for possession of USD 600 million in fake money.
According to him, the hack was choreographed by hardened prisoners, prison wardens and police officers who are part of a gang that specializes in mobile hacking.
Sani claims that he is well-versed with the happenings of the outage because he was part of the group that triggered it in a prison cell. To cement his confession, Sani says he has the evidence to support his claims (including mobile money transactions) and witnesses who are ready to back up his story to avoid the dismissal of the confession as sheer braggadocio.
While in the dock, Mr. Sani explained that he was able to execute the outage after police officers smuggled two laptops into his cell. The confession was packed with tech-savvy and hacking talk, and together with his composure, there is little doubt that he knows his trade. Maybe.
The Niger national had his bail application denied and has been behind bars for a year and half, where he has used his time and skills to defraud mobile services providers and customers. Because he shares the loot with police officers, they give him incentives such as their protection.
Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi has since advised the magistrate to ascertain these claims at Industrial Area Prison.