National Security Operatives have conducted an operation to secure databases belonging to the Ghana Water Company Limited, GWCL from an Accra based IT firm.
The operation which followed a complaint by the Ghana Water Company to National Security was to safeguard the databases access to which had been deliberately blocked by the company.
According to National Security Sources the company Softtribe Ltd was holding the databases, which are critical for billing customers, to ransom after GWCL served notice it will not renew its contractual relations with the IT firm.
In the complaint, GWCL detailed how access to its own customer’s data had been revoked by Softtribe, and were requesting for assistance to secure the sensitive data.
National Security subsequently secured a court order and dispatched IT experts to Softtribe to secure the database.
National Security sources say the databases are now safe and the commercial risks to GWCL have been contained.
In October 2015, as part of GWCL’s Technology Roadmap, the utility company decided to consolidate its billing system across the country into one to utilize cloud technology and mobile applications.
Some of GWCL regions were sending SMS bills to customers ahead of the paper bill.
GWCL invited The Softtribe Limited to make a presentation about a system they claimed to have developed for other institutions in Ghana—called MX Platform. Their solution was basically to create Water Credit Top-up cards similar to what the Telcos have. That system had fraudulent hidden costs associated with so-called Super Agents that were discovered on time and abandoned.
GWCL offered all its intellectual property documents on utility billing system to the IT firm and guided them to work on a billing database. GWCL rewarded about 180,000 USD Ghana per month from June 2016 to date to cover full cost the system including staffing. Due to strong leadership and diligence by Management and technical team of GWCL who worked 24/7 to support the project, the project made great strides. Revenue went up by 14%.
From July 2018, GWCL noticed that all Softtribe staff trained and invested heavily in, started resigning from the Project en masse. GWCL discovered that some top management members of the IT firm including Herman Chinery-Hesse, Kisseih-Tetteh Antonio and David Kwamena Bolton were abusing the funds paid on Cars, Needless travels and property acquisitions instead of paying their staff.
Over 70 percent of the Money paid to The Softtribe by GWCL is earmarked for professional fees. By August 2018, all the staff GWCL started the project with from the Softtribe had resigned and they were replaced with completely new technical staff who knew nothing about the project.
When Softtribe discovered GWCL was going to suffer billing problems due to the 100% staff turnover, they wrote a letter to GWCL stating that one of their key staff – the last one to abandon them—was a cyber-terrorist. That was to give them a force majeure cover under the contract with GWCL to buy time. Since GWCL did not have the capacity handle terror threat of such magnitude, the matter was immediately referred to the National Security to deal with it. The outcome of that investigation showed that the Softtribe made up the threat and could not provide any technical evidence to support their claim and it was a ploy to buy time to help them assembly a team to support GWCL.
In addition to that, an IT audit commissioned by GWCL on the system discovered so many flaws and money paid by GWCL to the Softtribe for Ethical Hacking to secure the system was never done and not a single report was presented to the audit team after all attempts.
Under the contract, The Softtribe was to provide a current copy of the source code for safekeeping in case of any emergency, they have never honored that obligation. Softtribe failed to provide any documentation necessary to secure the system.
The project has since been on a nosedive with issues after issues and has cause great decline in the fortunes of GWCL. Softtribe wrote to GWCL to give them opportunity to build a new system within 3 months since October 2018, they have failed to deliver. They missed all deadlines set by themselves to deliver a solution. The company struggled to face multiple challenges and had no option but give them an ultimatum to fix the issue according the contract. The IT firm could not fix the problems and they were served with Notice of Termination.
The notice of Termination is 6 months, GWCL discovered that the backup of the nation’s customer billing system on its server was not happening. All attempts to get them to fix it failed. GWCL later discovered it was a planned sabotage by the three directors of the company to cripple the Utility Company.
GWCL quickly reported to National Security to intervene to secure sensitive data of the people of this country.