By Harry Misiko

In its latest attack, Anonymous cell Anon_0x03 on July 27 cracked, took control and used Kenya Deputy President William Ruto’s Twitter account to tweet a list of government websites it had hacked.

Hackers and other cyber criminals on the prowl are wreaking havoc in Kenya, threatening to turn the East African country’s dream of launching an e-government into a nightmare.

Hundreds of Web sites operated by government ministries and state-level institutions have been cracked, hacked and defaced in the last two years, with the hackers recording their biggest haul in January 2012 when an Indonesian intruder Direxer struck down 103 Web sites in one night.

With over 21 million Internet users out of its 44-million population, Kenya ranks fourth in cybercrime cases  in Africa behind South Africa, Egypt and Algeria, according to latest statistics by Kaspersky Lab.

The security breaches are boding ill for Nairobi’s quest to become an African tech hub. Kenya has launched a global charm offensive to woo investors to its $14.5 billion Konza Techno City, which has been billed as Africa’s Silicon Savannah.

The attacks by international hacktivist groups— including the notorious Anonymous, Gaza, TiGER-M@TE and Dz Mafia— have also put the current government, which pitched itself as a digital player in last year’s elections, to shame. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have on several occasions claimed to be tech-savvy leaders, and Kenyatta was recently declared Africa’s most followed head of state on Twitter.

But Latin America-based Anonymous cell Anon_0x03 last week had a field day hitting at the heart of Kenyatta’s administration, which is grappling with runaway online and offline crime and a rejuvenated opposition.