from RUSSELL ADADEVOH in Accra, Ghana
ACCRA – A DATA breach perpetrated by alleged cyber criminals has reportedly exposed up to 700 000 people from across Ghana to fraud, hacking and identity theft.
The breach against the National Service Secretariat (NSS) also exposed the institutions the victims were working at and the Ghanaian government itself.
vpnMentor, the pro bono service that strives to help the online community defend itself against cyber threats, warned the breach represents a serious risk to the government of Ghana and thousands of citizens across the West African country.
Led by Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, vpnMentor’s research team discovered the data breach.
NSS is a government programme managing a mandatory year of public service for graduates of certain educational institutions in Ghana.
Every year, thousands of students join the programme from across the country to work in various public sectors, including healthcare.
NSS was using Amazon Web Services to store over 3 million files from its programmes.
Despite password protecting some of the files in its cloud storage account, allege simple oversights by creators of the account and uploaded and organized the files on the S3 bucket made this insufficient, and many files were still exposed.
The NSS was also using the S3 bucket to store identity documents and programme membership cards from participants.
These included government IDs, such as the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme, and professional IDs, most likely based on a person’s placement in a certain industries.
The NSS was storing different types of passport photos submitted by participants with varying degrees of protection installed.
Ghana’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-GH) is quoted as having verified and confirmed the vulnerability.
“A report has been prepared and shared with the CERT coordinating government agencies. We will be following up to ensure that the issue is resolved ASAP,” read a response.
According to vpnMentor, across the globe, cyber attacks are increasing, and the general public is becoming much more aware of the dangers.
Concurrently, in many countries, trust in the government is deteriorating rapidly, often fueled by online misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hopefully, this data will remain out of criminal hands,” vpnMentor stated.
– CAJ News