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Corrupting the System: How eTenders’ Flawed Security Enables Bid Rigging



“The Bid Wars: A Wake-up Call for Government Tenders in the Time of Cyber Uncertainty”

The tender landscape has experienced a drastic drop in activity this week, a mere 25%, according to National Treasury’s eTenders Portal. But behind the numbers lies a more ominous forecast – a security alert, plain for all to see. The portal has thrown up a warning, a blinking beacon of uncertainty, a harbinger of something gone awry.

Government tenders, once the sole province of seasoned players, have suddenly found themselves in a precarious position. No more are they the undisputed rulers of the tender landscape, free from the whispers of cyber threats and anxieties. Today, they stand face-to-face with the harsh realities of security and risk management.

The government department responsible for the eTenders Portal, the State Information Technology Agency, has seen fit to reveal to us that the website’s SSL/TLS digital certificate expired on 6 July. SSL, which is responsible for encryption and authentication between a web browser and server, is a crucial component of e-tenders. Its expiration creates vulnerabilities that could be exploited by nefarious forces.

In these precarious times, when security threats lurk in the shadows, even the most innocent looking e-tenders, reek of danger. The once trusted interface, where bidders deposited their proposals, is no longer as secure as it was, if at all. Can our industry leaders, the pillars of integrity and professionalism, truly rest on the laurels of their past successes when every bid is now subject to cyber risk?

As bidders anxiously await the opportunity to lay their hands on the coveted e-submission capability, they do so knowing that the very tool upon which their bids are to be placed is compromised. An all too familiar theme rears its head – who indeed will take the risk and assume liability for their bids submitted? Or will they opt to remain faithful to the old ways, playing coy and hiding behind smoke-screen of ‘security issues’

For the time being, those bids, which once traversed the ether with such abandon and swagger, are now subject to the vagaries of digital uncertainty. Will government bidders still be the mighty juggernauts they once were or will they falter beneath the strain of an insecure e-submission portal? Only time, with a pinch of cyber luck, shall reveal what secrets the future holds



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