Efforts to protect Government’s virtual meetings from being hacked have moved a gear up, with trial runs on a locally developed software -TrueConf – now underway.
Last week, Government was jolted by an unpleasant glitch during the Meteorological Services Department event on the National Climate Outlook Forum, after it was hacked by mischief makers, who posted pornographic material.
Zimbabwe is not a newcomer to developing its own secure software applications. The Government has developed the Public Finance Management System (PFMS), which has been used with success by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and has ring-fenced operations of Government finances and does not allow an overdraft.
Permanent Secretary for Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Engineer Sam Kundishora, told The Herald last week that the latest software for secure Government conferencing, TrueConf, was embedded in the PFMS, and Government was just invoking or launching the application which will run video conferencing and the message application.
“We are working on a video conferencing and messaging application, and we are testing the system.”
President Mnangagwa’s administration has been pushing for local innovations.
Covid-19 mitigatory measures, which prohibit unnecessary travelling, have seen a jump in demand for technology that allows for virtual meetings, but last week’s hacking incident demonstrated that high level meetings on Zoom could be prone to fly-on-the-wall hackings.
Eng Kundishora said it was important to use a system controlled locally to retain the privacy and control of all online Government meetings.
“Zoom is hosted and managed outside Zimbabwe, when notices to host meetings are distributed they might end up in wrong hands who might use such to get access to the meetings, he said.
“We must move as a country to using an application that is controlled and managed locally. The PFMS, which is used by the Government, has a component for teleconferencing and messaging application. It is a more secure platform.”
After last week’s hacking incident, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Permanent Secretary, Mr Munesu Munodawafa, called for the passing of the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill into law to deter those bent on disturbing Government business online.
“It was totally embarrassing,” he said. “We had to fight to bring it down. The person or persons were using a language which looked as though it was from outside Africa.”