Thursday, October 22, 2020

Mapoka the red herring swims into DISS fraud pool

In its first campus hiring ever, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has recruited a top-flight information security specialist. Intelligence sources, however, insist that the recruitment of Dr Trust Tshepo Mapoka is part of a DISS black-operation to hack into electronic voting machines during the 2019 general elections.

Mapoka, who has a MEng in Telecommunications Engineering and a PhD in Telecommunications Information Security, both from the University of Bradford, was sent by BIUST to study in the United Kingdom but was snatched by DISS even before he graduated for his PhD last month (July).

Documents passed to the Sunday Standard including research papers and personal information bear out Mapoka as a world class geek who has researched and written extensively on Information Security and has presented research  papers at international cyber security conferences.

Intelligence sources claim that Mapoka will lead a DISS cyber espionage mission to hack the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) source code which would help the spy agency manipulate the machines during the 2019 General elections.

Sources within the intelligence industry claim that the DISS has also approached two Israeli spy-tech firms, Verint Systems and Cellebrite to help hack the EVMs as plan B of the black op.

Verint Systems which offers various communications and interception solutions for use by government agencies around the world towards security applications has a long standing relationship with the DISS. The controversial Israeli company was engaged by the DISS a few years ago to supply a stealth and intrusive GSM mass surveillance system called Engage Gi2 Tactical Solution.

Confidential Verint Systems documents, which have been passed to the Sunday Standard including training manuals offer more detail than previously available on how intrusive the DISS acquisition is. The software manual offers step-by-step instructions on how to intercept communications with Verint equipment.

The Israeli company was also given a contract by the DISS to supply equipment that intercepts and monitor web communication.

Sunday Standard was not able to raise any information suggesting a history between the other Israeli company ÔÇô Cellebrite and the DISS. Cellebrite, however, has in the past been engaged by the Botswana Defence Force Military Intelligence for the supply of the Cellebrite Universal Memory Exchanger (UME), a stand-alone phone-to-phone memory transfer and backup machine. It transfers all forms of content, including pictures, videos, ring-tones, SMS, and phone book contact data.

The latest allegations come in the wake of reports that the EVMs which will be used in Botswana’s 2019 General elections are susceptible to hacking and manipulation and do not meet requisite safety standards to protect the integrity of the election process.

The EVMs to be supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), an India state-owned company are internationally known as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines because they record votes directly in electronic memory. Similar voting machines have been banned in Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland because they are prone to hacking and manipulation, and are allowed in most American states only with the back-up of a voter-verified paper trail

Botswana and India will both use the controversial EVMs supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited during their 2019 General Elections. While India will use a voter-verified paper trail audit system (VVPTS) to minimise the possibility of election fraud, Botswana on the other hand, will leave the itself open to possible vote rigging.

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