The African Arrangement Advice Centre (AFRINIC), the continent’s Internet abode registry, is investigating annexation and leasing of ample swathes of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from its system, including through companies registered in Uganda.
IP addresses are acclimated throughout the apple by all Internet users. There are bristles non-profit bodies answerable to administer allocation of blocks of IP addresses to bartering companies, governments, bookish institutions, Internet Annual providers (ISPs), and added end users for anniversary of the bristles continents.
Each of these bristles bodies; AFRINIC (Africa) whose abode are in the island nation of Mauritius, off the East African coast, LACNIC (for Latin & South America), ARIN (for North America), RIPE (for Europe), and APNIC for (Asia/Pacific), administer IP abode allocations alone for its specific assigned geographic region.
An Internet Protocol or IP abode is a altered anecdotic cardinal with which to acquaint for anniversary accessory that connects to the Internet.
For archetype aback you try to log assimilate “www.monitor.co.ug,” your browser aboriginal has to construe that allegorical domain/website name into an IP address.
To admission any website from your device—computer, book or phone, you charge to accept an IP abode from your Internet annual provider (ISP).
The ISP, in turn, admission their stocks of IP addresses from one of the bristles bounded internet registries aforementioned.
The world’s bristles Internet registries accept run out of the admired Internet Protocol adaptation (four) abode blocks, or artlessly IPv4 to accord to organisations to use, and as a result, blocks of afterwards IPv4 addresses accept become awfully admired in contempo years, with alike bashful sized blocks attractive as abundant as $1m (Shs3.6b) in the now approved trade.
At these prices, in contempo years IP abode blocks accept additionally bent the absorption of black-marketers.
The adumbration of annexation and arrant leasing of African IP addresses was aboriginal laid bald by a California-based Internet investigator Ron Guilmette, afterwards bristles months of systematically digging up assorted records.
Armed with evidence, he presented the allegation to AFRINIC but was aboriginal abandoned until an centralized argumentative analysis was launched a few months ago. Daily Adviser collaborated with Mr Guilmette and South African technology website, My Broadband, on this story.
In an email acknowledgment to our inquiries, the AFRINIC arch controlling officer, Mr Eddy Kayihura, able that they accomplished an complete analysis already the allegations and issues came to light.
“The analysis is still advancing and attributable to the complication of the issue, it would not be able for us to either anon or alongside animadversion on the said allegations.”
Mr Guilmette stumbled aloft the betray which, activity by accessible evidence, he said “strongly suggests was an central job” in AFRINIC while investigating the confiscation of African IP abode blocks.
Beginning in 2016, Mr Guilmette said he began to apprehension that a abundant cardinal of AFRINIC-managed IP abode blocks appeared actuality acclimated by assorted parties to which they were not absolutely or formally registered.
He mentioned this on some email commitment lists that are frequented by high-level Internet arrangement administrators from about the world, but at the time, no one anticipation abundant about it.
Guilmette afresh noticed aforementioned alien peculiarities in 2017 in affiliation to AFRINIC-managed IP abode blocks. He afresh arise his aboriginal allegation and suspicions on the aforementioned commitment lists inhabited by Internet arrangement administrators. Again, annihilation came of it at the time.
In mid-2019, however, Mr Guilmette said he already afresh could acquaint that article was activity amiss with absolutely a lot of AFRINIC-managed IP abode blocks, but this time he absitively to barrage an investigation.
Several months into the investigation, Mr Guilmette said his allegation began to point to, amid added individuals, Mr Ernest Byaruhanga, a Ugandan built-in agent of AFRINIC, as activity coordinator, aback 2004 aback the anatomy was established.
Mr Byaruhanga accommodated his position on October 24, a day afterwards Mr Guilmette had confronted him via email with annal bond him to the dodgy creaming off of the advantageous IPv4 addresses.
Mr Kayihura accepted Mr Byaruhanga’s avenue but was non-committal on discussing added details.
Daily Adviser has, however, apparent a apprenticed administration email bulletin which was beatific alone to the dues-paying affiliate ISPs of AFRINIC advertence that Mr Byaruhanga was “suspended.”
The circuitous arrangement On September 9, 2013, at 10:35:32am, a area name, ipv4leasing.org, was registered by one Ernest Byaruhanga.
The appellation ‘domain name’ is acclimated to denote any one of the billions of allegorical names that are acclimated to admission all abode of appearance and functions on the Internet.
For example, “www.monitor.co.ug” is the area name acclimated to admission the Daily Monitor’s website. Aback you are sending an email to anyone say via Gmail, you accelerate application the “gmail.com” area name.
Very abreast the time aback the area name ipv4leasing.org was registered, aback in September 2013, and in actuality a bald few abnormal later, at 10:35:46am accession domain, ipv4leasing.net, was registered but had its allotment capacity concealed.
However activity by its web content, it deals in auction and leasing of admired IPv4 addresses.Historical allotment annal appearance that the Ipv4leasing.org area name was registered on September 13, 2013 by and to Mr Byaruhanga.
The area name ipv4leasing.net was registered in absolutely the aforementioned minute and the aforementioned day way aback in 2013, “it seems to be a asleep authoritativeness that the Ipv4leasing.net area additionally was registered by and to Mr Byaruhanga,” Mr Guilmette stated.
“This is important because the web armpit of Ipv4leasing.net is acutely attempting to advertise and/or charter admired IP abode blocks, and is not anon bright what the antecedent of those blocks ability be.”
Daily Adviser has apparent abstracts bond Mr Byaruhanga to companies, registered in his name, operating IP allowance while he was still an agent of AFRINIC.
Mr Kayihura said neither AFRINIC agents associates nor its admiral are accustomed to accomplish IP brokerages.
“This is adjoin our policies, attempt of belief and standards. Hence, AFRINIC will not alternate to booty such action(s) as it may annual fit adjoin any of its agents or administrator who are begin to accept breached those standards,” he said.
Attempts for several weeks to allocution to Mr Byaruhanga were futile. The blast contacts listed on the allotment abstracts for companies in his name were best by bodies who said they had never heard of him, while our emails were not answered.
We eventually attempted to acquaintance him through the Internet Society of Uganda Chapter, allotment of the all-around anatomy bringing calm individuals and organisation associates apprenticed to advance Internet viability, area Mr Byaruhanga is a lath member, but we were told that he had said he “was unavailable.”
“This ancillary business of his is actually a complete battle of absorption with his official duties there, and it raises the acutely catechism of how he came to accept IPv4 addresses to advertise and/or charter via this ancillary business of his,” Mr Guilmette said.
Besides the domain, ipvleasing.org, Uganda Allotment Services Bureau (URSB) annal appearance a company, IPV4 Leasing, was registered afterwards in April 2015 beneath Ernest Byaruhanga’s name.
According to Mr Guilmette, the buying of the Ugandan aggregation alleged IPv4 Leasing’ provides added affirmation suggesting affiliation of several blocks of IP addresses to a aggregation beneath Mr Byaruhanga’s control.
Mr Guilmette additionally said the domain, ipv4leasing.net is additionally mentioned several times in the assorted official AFRINIC allotment annal associated with the IP abode blocks that arise to accept been stolen.
One of the IP blocks was 18.104.22.168/24, which belonged to a aggregation alleged “Finance Trust Bank”. It was a sub-allocation of a beyond block (22.214.171.124/19) that belonged to an article alleged Link Abstracts Group.
“Link Abstracts Group” is additionally affiliated to CGHB in the anatomy of an e-mail abode — [email protected] This is the aforementioned CGHB article in the AFRINIC official annal that had Mr Byaruhanga’s name absorbed to it, in the official AFRINIC allotment records, as an authoritative acquaintance actuality at assorted times during 2012 and 2013.”
The AFRINIC allotment advice for the 126.96.36.199/24 block independent the afterward line: “changed: [email protected]”
The “ipv4leasing.net” area came up in the AFRINIC allotment of the afterward IP abode blocks of assorted companies; Dishnet Africa Ltd (South Sudan), AFRIKANET ONLINE SARL, and TruIT Internet Services (Kampala, Uganda).
In accession to Link Abstracts Group, there is accession aggregation in the official AFRINIC allotment annal area the “ipv4leasing.net” area appears – ITC Digital.
A allocation of one of ITC’s several assigned IP abode blocks was afterwards awash to another, Mauritian/South African aggregation TotalSend, the accord brokered through a aggregation alleged SMSPLUS registered in Kampala.
Historical AFRINIC allotment annal appearance that the aggregation that is currently calling itself ‘ITC’ in the official records, was originally an absolutely altered and different (and nowadays long-defunct) African ISP aggregation alleged AfriQ*Access, Inc.
This aggregation was briefly based in Cameroon in 2009. (This Cameroon ISP aggregation allegedly bootless and went out of business at atomic 10 years or added ago, according to Mr Guilmette’s research).
The accordant AFRINIC annal arise to announce that afterwards its annihilation as a activity concern, the actual accumulated character of AfriQ*Access, Inc. was baseborn and the bandit or thieves of this accumulated character again afflicted the accordant AFRINIC allotment annal to try to accomplish it arise that the aggregation had been alleged ‘ITC’ all along.
“In effect, this looks like a case of accumulated character theft,” Mr Guilmette observed.
More affirmation from the actual AFRINIC annal supports this view. Just as the name of AfriQ*Access, Inc. was actuality fraudulently mutated into ‘ITC’, the company’s commitment abode was additionally fraudulently afflicted from its antecedent (and valid) abode in Conakry, Guinea, aboriginal to an abode in the Lynnwood Ridge area of Pretoria, South Africa, and again afterwards on to a accurate appointment cardinal in Amber House architecture in Kampala.
Daily Adviser approved to chase up on this closing lead, but was clumsy to authorize any complete or bright affiliation to the all-embracing IP abode betray by columnist time.
In September 2012 records, apparent by this newspaper, appearance a actuality with the name “Inno” wrote via [email protected] to an controlling of TotalSend, a South African online business company, about achievability of bartering IP addresses.
“We can advertise or charter to you a block of accessible IP addresses for use immediately. Please let us apperceive how abundant you charge and your annual and we shall proceed,” Inno wrote.
After aback and alternating exchanges, Inno afflicted the sending abode from [email protected] to [email protected] and additionally adumbrated that he was now based in Kampala. Inno, in the consecutive correspondences, abundant $2,500 (Shs9.1m) as the one off amount for the approved IP address.
When asked for his surname, “Inno’’ replied he was “Inno Byaruhanga.” “Inno Byaruhanga” provided his coffer capacity to TotalSend in adjustment to complete the sales transaction, the annual in the names of Amiek Holdings Ltd in Stanbic Bank, and acquittal was accomplished by Totalsend and the accord closed, but not afterwards glitches. For archetype in aboriginal October 2012, it emerged that the aboriginal IP abode that Inno attempted to advertise had been assigned to a chump in the US afore proposing a bandy deal.
The URSB annal in Kampala appearance that Amiek Holdings Ltd was registered in December 2009 to two shareholders; Ernest Byaruhanga and Annette Nankanja Byaruhanga, apparently a couple. Added listed admiral were minors, all with the surname “Byaruhanga.”
Also listed on annal as the aggregation secretary is one Mr Andrew Kabombo, a advocate and managing accomplice at one of the top law firms in Kampala. Mr Kabombo beneath to animadversion on the matter.TotalSend’s admiral accustomed accepting IP addresses from a banker anecdotic themselves as “Inno” but added that they did not doubtable apocryphal identities.
The company, TotalSend, congenital in Mauritius and has offices in South Africa explained that in 2012, they capital to aggrandize business and inquired about accepting its own block of IP addresses from AFRINIC, but at that time Totalsend’s basement was hosted in UK.
“The botheration the business faced at that point was that it was registered in Mauritius which avalanche beneath AFRINIC, but it had no absolute attendance or servers based in Africa,” TotalSend accepted administrator Duncan Land told MyBroadband.
“The business at the time was alone a brace of bodies (based in South Africa), and bare IPs actively to accommodated expansion,” he said.
“Getting these [IP addresses] from ISPs was not scalable,” said Land. “They abhorrence hosting e-mail providers as corruption complaints appear with the territory.”
“That’s aback Inno popped on to the arena and offered to advertise us a range, and his access and buying of the IPs arrested out at face value. We proceeded and aggregate went smoothly, so we had no acumen to agnosticism any legitimacy,” said Land.
InvolvementsHistorical allotment annal for the smsplus.ug domain, archived by DomainTools.Com, a provider for WHOIS and contour abstracts for blackmail intelligence, shows that on November 10, 2012 the smsplus.ug area name was registered to a accumulated entity, Mobile Ideas Ltd, with Mr Kabombo as the acquaintance person.
According to the official URSB aggregation allotment for SMSPlus, a one Albert Byaruhanga is listed as the managing director.
Mr [Ernest] Byaruhanga is additionally affiliated to accession block of IP addresses that afflicted character in abstruse ways.
He was the appointed authoritative acquaintance for the Cape of Good Hope Coffer (CGHB) IP abode block in the official AFRINIC registrations database at assorted times during 2012 and 2013.”
According to Mybroadband, alike added analytical is the actuality that Nedbank acquired Cape of Good Hope Coffer in 2003 which raises questions why long-defunct company—CGHB—was awarded new IP abode amplitude on 18 July 2014, added than ten years afterwards the aggregation had been acquired by accession bank.
“This seems to be yet accession case of accumulated character theft,” Mr Guilmette cautions.
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