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Blast from the Past: National Identification?!!!

Remember when I blogged about the National Identification Scheme and questioned whether or not Ghana was ready for such an exercise? I was concerned with the amount of information that was being collated and questioned whether it was safe for our security personnel to have access to it.

It’s been four years since and since then I’ve noted the following:

1.  The website is no longer http://www.niaghana.gov.gh/ 
It redirects you to the new website
2.  The new one is http://www.nia.gov.gh/
Recently, I paid a visit to the NIA Office near Gulf House and being the curious person that I am, I followed a website mentioned in an ad placed in the lobby. The ad was inviting people to visit Ghana’s e-services hub.  Since I had my smartphone on me, I typed in the link and was actually impressed with the site. I decided to click on the NIA page there and followed a link there to the official website whereupon was promptly directed to….
3. a porn site. A Russian porn site. I thought my eyes were deceiving me so I went back and clicked the link. Same thing! So I checked from a tablet. Once again, I was directed to the porn site. NO, I did NOT take a screen-shot of the questionable content (I know some naughty ones will ask for evidence).
I informed the receptionist of the problem and she said “We know. The IT guys are on National assignment so we can’t fix it now”. For real? NO ONE was available to stop the hackers from redirecting visitors to their lewd gallery?
Later on, I was made to understand that the hack only worked on mobile devices. Computer browsers sent you to the actual NIA site so all I had to do was find a computer and save my eyes the trouble.
Still, this security thing nags at me.  This is the NIA. Information security should NOT be a problem for them. If we’re to trust them with our vital info, they should be able to handle the security of their own website, surely? 
This is what the website looks like today on both web and mobile browsers. 
I can only assume that the IT guys are finally back from assignment and are cleaning up the website. How long the welcome screen will greet us, I’ve no idea but I’ll take this to naked chics any day.
Have you registered with the NIA? Do you feel your data is safe with them? Have you experienced anything like I did when visiting any Ghanaian Government site?  Hit me up in the comments section.

Comments

comments

10 Comments

  1. SMDH. This is just adding insult to injury. Injury here being the fiasco that the whole National Identification scheme already is. And no, information obviously isn’t safe with them. I usually get myself involved in new schemes, funny enough I never registered with the NIA. I don’t regret it in the slightest right now.

    March 23, 2013
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  2. Hey Andy! Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving a comment. Funny enough, I still haven’t registered for my NIA card. Eventually, I will have to do so and trust me, I’m dreading the day.

    There was another incident that happened the day I was there that I’m not sure I’m permitted to mention, but a man came in for his card and there was a huge error on it; one he’d mentioned to the agents when they were taking his particulars on the day of his registration. They paid him no mind.

    I worry about this country; about the telenovella viewing in our government buildings and the blatant lackadaisical attitude most workers put into their jobs. It’s time we realised our laziness loses people precious time and money.

    It’s also time our public agencies paid more attention to their online presence. Allowing hackers to take over your website for weeks simply isn’t right.

    March 23, 2013
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  3. After all that queueing I’ve still not got my ID card. I heard I had to go to where I registered (Ashanti Mampong) even though I filled a transfer form.
    Me I taya plus them sef.
    Pity u didn’t take a screen shot of that questionable site. I would have wanted to see it. Of cos for research purposes only 😉

    March 24, 2013
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  4. Oh Efo! Somehow I knew you would want to see a screenshot.

    Have you gone to the HQ? I understand you should be able to pick it up there. (I can’t remember if you live in Accra, sorry) Keep trying for yours. I’ll eventually walk into the HQ and register. I just wish they’d tie everything into that card and save me the trouble of carrying multiple cards in my purse.

    March 24, 2013
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  5. This is incredible! A national website that handles such vital information of its citizens?! The tech guys were on national assignment?! Wow!

    March 24, 2013
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  6. @soulfoodteam I worry for this country. I wouldn’t ask you to put me in charge cuz I’m fickle but some of the people in charge scare me. I can bet you the tech guys were in the building watching telenovellas.

    March 24, 2013
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  7. Hmmmmmm, I have been very curious about it but never tried to feed my curiosity. If the website has been hacked for long and nothing was done to rectify it asap, then we are really in real trouble as a nation. It seems we are not security conscious. Ghanaian’s have this attitude of ‘Lets wait and see’. God damn it! lets rise up and do something before something do us, lol.

    March 24, 2013
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  8. @Zakiyu the few Ghanaians who truly know about data security are sadly often not consulted by government. In this county it’s all about he who pays the piper. Sadly, the ones paying are the ignoramuses and saboteurs of our nation. Do something? Other than refuse to register and blog about it, my hands are tied. If you know techies who could take this up, please do bring em together. I’ve discovered bloggers are very good at providing megaphones for the people who NEED to be heard.

    March 24, 2013
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  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous

    If credit cards use was widespread coupled with this hacking incident, it would have been a serious nightmare for people. I wonder what the data will be used for. And what receptionist did you meet? Can the techs telnet into their devices or just stop whatever they are doing and come to accra? Banks and other institutions should seriously take this issue up.

    Imagine electronic voting with this issue. If your finger prints are later mismatched with your details, how can you vote and who will cast your vote for you in whose favour?

    What is the military intelligence and all other agencies set up doing? The world became a global village about 13 years ago and we still think as if the internet is still for the US military use only.

    There is a new data center being constructed adjacent the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence. I wonder those who will man the place. Whether foot soldiers or people who know their work and are willing to do them.

    It is about time we made our leaders accountable for their actions and inactions.

    March 24, 2013
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  10. Hullo Anonymous. Friends at the NIA have assured me that the server our data is located on is different from that on which the website is. They wish to assure me that the attack did not affect any of our data. Your hypothetical credit cards are safe for now apparenntly.

    I believe the prints could be mismatched. Especially as that man who was complaining the other day had been registered as a female (something he pointed out on the day of registration). Human error is something we should not take for granted. Most people hear “computerised” and think accurate. Who feeds info into the computers? Ah well.

    I agree with you on making our leaders accountable. Still, it’s up to the people with the know-how to stand up and point out these things. Sure I noticed the hack but what else has been going on that the rest of us are unaware of? How do we hold leadership accountable for what we cannot see?

    March 26, 2013
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