Thursday, October 1, 2020

MASCOM caught in the middle of feuding old and new DIS regimes

The Directorate of Intelligence Services has traced the existence of a rogue and parallel arm operating illegal eavesdropping  activities on the public to infrastructure owned by Macom ÔÇô the country’s leading mobile and telecommunications operator.

There is however no evidence to suggest that Mascom is involved at an official level.

A source at DIS confirmed to Sunday Standard that it was recently discovered that Mascom infrastructure had been used to host gadgets that had been used to listen to the public.

That happened after it became clear to DIS that previledged communication between senior Government officials was being routinely intercepted.

An independent investigation led to Mascom infrastructure.

The same source said it is possible that a middle ranking engineer rather Mascom leadership was responsible.

If that is the case, DIS suspects, such an engineer is personally beholden to rogue and indebted to operatives, DIS believes.

Complicating all this already combustible mix is the fact that DIS request for access to Mascom database following the discovery was rebuffed, he added.

A source at Mascom also confirmed that DIS had recently made a request for information. That request was turned down, the source said.

“Our refusal for access has no doubt made them [DIS] bitter,” said a source at Mascom.

The Chief Communications and Public Relations Officer at Mascom, Tebogo Lebotse Sebego said in a prepared statement to Sunday Standard that there has been an attempt to breach the company’s corporate server.

She allayed any fears that any data had been compromised.

This will however ring hollow to the current mood at DIS where a strong narrative exists that by declining requests for access to  information by the spy agency Mascom might inadvertently be abetting the operations of rogue operatives working to subvert the official agency.

Crucially Lebotse-Sebogo did not answer questions by Sunday Standard if Mascom had reported such attempts of breach to the Regulator or to relevant security agencies.

“Cyber security is an evolving threat, as such there are constant attempts to gain access into systems operated by entities such as ours.

“There was an attempt to breach our corporate server. This is the server used to manage company database including human resources information,” she said in her statement.

“We wish to reassure our stakeholders that all the Mascom systems, including the service server, where customer information is managed, are secure and protected. We continue to strengthen our cyber security defenses to eliminate vulnerabilities,” concluded Lebotse-Sebego.

The existence of a rogue intelligence cabal will not altogether come a surprise to the public.

But the fact that such a cabal has gone so far as to find access to use infrastructure and network of a phone company will send chill waves down the spines of a public that had been promised and believed that illegal eavesdropping and wiretaps have become things of the past following a change of guard at the DIS.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

COVID-19 throws Botswana Athletics Association off the track

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has cancelled its 2020 calendar of events. This was revealed by the association vice president technical Oabona Theetso.