The Secret to Good old Mudslinging: How to do it Online

It’s an election year. Imagine that you are a leading opposition politician, an aspiring presidential candidate in fact. You wake up Thursday morning to find shocking headlines in a leading daily newspaper: Criminals have broken into your website and somehow redirected it to a rival politician’s site, telling the whole world that you support your rival. Your rival is in fact the guy you’re facing off against for your party’s presidential ticket. You read on and discover that your party’s site has also been similarly attacked to redirect visitors to the incumbent government’s site which openly attacks your party. This might seem like a bad dream to you but it is, in fact, what happened in Kenya this week.

For those of you not familiar with Kenyan politics: 2007 is an election year with the main opposition party being ODM-K whose numerous frontrunners are squaring it off for the party’s presidential ticket. Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga are two of ODM-K’s leading lights. The Standard is a leading Daily in Kenya. Having introduced the cast, we’ll now go back to our story.

On Thursday, the Standard’s headline story was of how Kalonzo’s site had been attacked and made to redirect visitors to Raila’s site. In turn, ODM-K’s site was similarly redirected to the incumbent government’s site.

Oh wait, but the plot thickens! It turns out that Kalonzo’s real website was not attacked at all and neither was ODM-K’s real website. As it turns out, some criminals had set up fake websites and thus caused all this confusion and hullabaloo. This is called phishing.

Suppose you were one of these criminals. After setting up your fake Kalonzo website, all you need is for someone to come and publicize the fact that Kalonzo’s ‘website’ has been cracked so that your phishing would have its desired effects. The effect, of course, is that of creating confusion and chaos within ODM-K, among its luminaries, and the electorate. You know full well that no one will accidentally come across your fake site because the whole world already knows the url of Kalonzo’s real site – he launched it gallantly and loudly a short while ago. One thought is troubling your little criminal mind: how do you get people to notice your fake website? You have to find a sneezer!

What if you ‘passed on’ the news of Kalonzo’s site having been attacked to a leading newspaper in the hopes of them publicizing your criminal feat? After all, the perfect sneezer would be a leading newspaper. I believe that is exactly what happened. The Standard Newspaper was used.

Personally, this proves that politics is an extremely dirty game which, ideally, should not be tried at home. I do not care much for politics but I find this story intriguing and, inevitably, I have to say that the guys behind it did a real good job. Above all, this incident makes me happy. It’s sad that somebody was used and others’ feelings were hurt but having it happen online has its goodness. The more we use the internet (even for criminal purposes), the more useful it becomes. We should all learn from this sad episode.

As I write this, both fake websites redirect visitors to pages belonging to the Daily Nation, another major Daily in Kenya and a competitor of The Standard.

The Link to The Standard’s Headline Story:

The Fake websites:

The Real Websites:

Additional Resources


  1. My opinion on the post is as much as it shows politics is dirty,it also shows that IT is growing in Kenya which is a very good thing. If such things continue then Internet security will be needed,legislations have to be drafted bla bla bla u get the flow.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The lesson here is; Standard Newspaper is not reporting objectively. The standard writer knows the culprits and might be involved in the whole affair. It looks like the standard do not know something called objective reporting. Last weekend Mr Musila complained about the same in his letter to the editor.
    Do we trust what they write? No. Standard Seems to to be very keen on seeing ODM-K disintergrating. Reasons? they know it better. Politics is not dirty. It is authority. Some players like the Standard newspaper are dirty and need to bath in lake Victoria. How do they expect us to trust them if all they write is lies and lies.
    Okey this is the point. Guys tell us what you have confidently investigated and not hearsy.

  3. I agree with you completely. I think the Standard lacks professionalism and should lose all credibility.

Speak your mind