Senators question Kenya Airways IT security after breaches

November 3, 2015
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The company's information systems director Kevin Kinyanjui acknowledged the mishap but stated that they had since upgraded their systems and they were now secure/CFM
The company’s information systems director Kevin Kinyanjui acknowledged the mishap but stated that they had since upgraded their systems and they were now secure/CFM
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – Kenya Airways management will be required to appear before the Senate within two weeks after they failed to convince the committee inquiring into its affairs over whether its IT system is secure.

This was after the committee learnt that staff who had been fired or left the company could still access the company’s systems over time since their profiles had not been deactivated.

The matter came to light when it was discovered that a former employee from Bangkok accessed the system successfully and although she did not transact any business, questions were raised over the system’s security.

Five other former employees had also locally tried to access the system.

The company’s information systems director Kevin Kinyanjui acknowledged the mishap but stated that they had since upgraded their systems and they were now secure.

“Out of that particular incident, we have now created an automated system which uses the payroll which makes sure no one gets paid for a month when they don’t work. This new system matches the payroll records with the user IDs and we can now be able to pick them up as quickly as possible. We stopped relying on the manager informing the HR director,” said Kinyanjui.

“In KQ we have over 70 business systems for each department. This lady was using what we call Amadeus system used for reservations and ticketing and the other five were yet to be removed from the system.”

Committee vice chairman Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri) questioned whether it was possible that due to the fact that the IT systems could be infiltrated by ‘non-employees’ the security of the company’s information was at risk and there could have been financial leakages.

He also questioned whether KQ was aware that it was dealing with disgruntled individuals and how much damage they could render the company if they were ‘not controlled’.

Kinyanjui insisted that although the auditor had raised a ‘red flag’ over the system, there was no material leakage or loss of revenue through the IT and hence no cause for alarm.

“We want to be satisfied that you have a grasp of IT systems,” stated Kagwe.

The airline’s HR director Alban Mwendar noted the importance of addressing the Senators’ concerns but requested for more time to get information that would help come to the bottom of what ailed the airline causing it to register losses as witnessed in the last half year results which saw the ‘Pride of Africa’ make a loss of over Sh25 billion.

Senators also warned the KQ management against attempting to cover up or admit flaws so as not to ruin their image saying it was important that they let all the ‘skeletons’ out of the closet so that solution are found.

“In my experience with public officers you deliberately come that way, guarded, and wait to see whether the MPs will be able to smoke out the dangers and when they fail to do that, you go out and celebrate that you were successful…please don’t fool us,” said Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) prompting Senator Kagwe to retort, “Do not have the impression that you can fool us.”

The Senators who were expected to retreat this weekend to draft their report have since postponed the plan to allow the management to appear one more time.

Senators will also be meeting the Commercial Director to discuss the issue of ticket costs which have driven many travellers to other airlines among them Senators who admitted that the high cost was making it easy for them to select other airlines.

Mwendar disclosed that they were listening to the consumers and had began holding meetings with the hope of coming up with a favourable solution.

Senators present included Hassan Omar (Mombasa), James Orengo (Siaya) and Peter Mositet (Kajiado).

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