University Students Charged with Hacking Bank in Kenya


This Monday, two University students in Kenya were charged with conspiracy to defraud a local bank of millions through hacking. The two individuals attempted to steal and move a sum of 190 million from NCBA bank. Additionally, the two students were charged with a second count of stealing about 24 million Kenyan Shillings ($220,000, £169,000) from the same bank. The NCBA bank head office in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area was the institution affected by the hack.

University Students in Second Year

The two accused were students at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The University is situated on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Antony Mwangi Ngige, 23, and Ann Wambui Nyoike, 21, both second-year students, were the only ones before the court. Antony and Ann were both accused jointly with others, not before the court, of conspiring to steal money through hacking.

Allegedly the two students committed the offenses on or before October 20 at an unknown location in Kenya. They both, however, denied the charges against them before the Milimani principal magistrate Caroline Muthoni. Additionally, Antony and Ann pleaded with the court for lenient bond terms. They begged for the court’s leniency, saying they were second-year students set to start their exams soon.

The Order of the Court

Principal magistrate Caroline Muthoni granted each sh 500,000 bail with an alternative bond of sh 2 million. Antony and Ann’s lawyer told the court his client would comply with the orders given. The two individuals’ cases would be mentioned again on November 10 for pre-trial.

Through Antony Mwangi’s communication through Twitter, the NCBA bank realized there was a system breach. He said the alleged crime was being executed on an IT platform present on a mobile phone. The NCBA bank received the news of the system anomaly and discovered the information to be true. Afterward, the bank summoned the two accused persons to their premises for inquiry. Antony and Ann presented themselves to the institution and did not get arrested at the time. After an investigation was conducted, however, the two got arrested. It was the communication from Antony to the bank that led to the prosecution of himself and Ann.

Cyber Threats in Kenya

In Kenya, cyber threats have become a significant issue among telecommunication firms and banks that handle public funds. Ensuring systems remain secure for such institutions has become a very costly and challenging activity. A banking institution such as Equity experiences about 14,000 hacking attempts in a month. Due to this, the institution is forced to hire individuals from other countries because of the scarcity of locally trained technicians.

When institutions handling public funds realize they are experiencing about 12,000 to 14,00 hack attempts, it is easy to assume that some employees collude with robbers. For instance, workers within a bank collude with hackers to hack firewalls every month for a particular sum of money. Conducting an investigation, and stopping such hacks from occurring becomes a challenging thing to do for institutions. Apart from insiders, the institutions receive threats from sources such as terrorists and other nation-states.



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