Sunday, September 27

Security breach hits South Africa’s international travelers’ database

A database, as many would know, is practically a way of getting a lot of related data and organizing it into fields that would aid easy access and manual interpretation whenever the need arises. A database can be used for a variety of purposes from organizing random data to keeping records – which can be of people or of things. A database is then to be kept safe, secure and treated with the utmost regard.

In South Africa, a database is kept of its citizens that are either living abroad or working abroad. The database is also extended to include those that are traveling abroad. This database, which is named the Registration of South Africans Abroad (ROSA) and is duly operated by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) suffered, is employed in terms of emergency. It assists the department to verify the status of individuals in the emergency situation and making swift measure to contact their next of kins.

As good as this programme sounds, it suffered a major setback when there was a wormhole opening in the database, causing leak of data of registered members online. The flaw was exposed by a user who wanted to register but got an error message. On refreshing, the user had privileged access to data of registered users. The details leaked includes their names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, passport number and other related information.

The department has alerted its IT unit to the problem and it promises to be rectified soonest. “They (the IT guys) are working to address any issues with the site,” the agency said in a press statement.

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