Liberia’s oldest GSM service provider, LoneStar Cell MTN, has sued its rival, Orange, in a London court for damages caused by alleged massive cyberattacks experienced on its network between 2015 and 2017.
Joined in the lawsuit is Cellcom, LoneStar Cell MTN’s main competitor, that was acquired by Orange in 2015.
LoneStar wants legal remedy to assuage the negatively impacted cyber attacks, known in the industry as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), had on its business over the two years period that the alleged cyber onslaught lasted.
Reports indicated that LoneStar’s subscribers were unable to communicate during the period as they could not access the network.
Most Liberians also suffered its devastating impact as they were cut off from bank transactions, while corporate office operations were brought to a standstill.
Learning in educational institutions were negatively impacted, even as farmers could not check crop prices.
The John F. Kennedy Medical Center went offline several times as the attacks continued unabated, while infectious disease specialists lost contact with international health agencies.
Telecommunications operatives and IT experts contend that never before had the world witnessed cyber-attacks of such magnitude.
The cyber-attacks attracted the attention of the global IT community, when Eugene Nagbe, then Minister of Information, who was away in Paris when the attacks started, could not reach the country on phone or by email.
His bank card also soon stopped working. An exasperated Nagbe went on French radio to appeal for global help.
“The scale of the attacks tells us that this is a matter of grave concern, not just to Liberia but to the global community that is connected to the Internet,” he said.
Indeed, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) noted that it is the first time that a single cyber attack had disrupted an entire nation’s network-albeit without intending to do so.
Two years ago, Kaye, the hacker responsible for the criminal DDoS attacks in Liberia, admitted to his crime at BlackfriarsCrown Court in London, and all the exchanges between him and Cellcom were admitted in evidence.
He was paid US$30,000.00 for the unwholesome act. He bagged 32 months in jail.
Global telecommunications operatives eagerly await the outcome of this trial as it will serve as a test case and a landmark on how to judicially tackle cyber crimes with national and international impact and implications such as the one that happened in Liberia between 2015 and 2017.