Big problems with UIF COVID-19 relief fund – Payment delays and security breach

Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Commissioner Teboho Maruping has explained that technical issues have caused COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) relief fund applications for June 2020 to remain closed.

The Commissioner said in a statement that they were experiencing “technical glitches” with the opening of the TERS application system for June submissions.

Maruping explained that these glitches related to the swapping of employer profiles when users try to submit claims, which causes a potential security breach.

This is the same problem MyBroadband reported on earlier this week, which saw employee data being exposed through the COVID-19 application portal.

Maruping also acknowledged that COVID-19 relief payments had been delayed and that employees were waiting longer than expected for their salaries.

“We initially opened the system for June application on 23 June 2020, and our aim was to start making the first payments on 25 June to ensure that employees do not wait too long for their salaries,” Maruping said.

“Unfortunately, we experienced problems with the swapping of user-profiles and we immediately shut it down for June and rolled back to May to fix the problem.”

“We deployed the system again on the 24th of June but the problem persisted and our IT engineers have ultimately increased the capacity of the system to be able to simultaneously process claims for April, May, and June,” he said.

He said that the data was safe, however, and that the UIF would be able to finalise claims and make payouts once it has resolved these issues.

“I wish to apologise to employers and employees for further delays, we are however working around the clock to fix the problem. We anticipate complete testing by Friday so that we can open the system again over the weekend if everything goes according to plan,” Maruping said.

Security flaw exposed employee data

The security flaw acknowledged by Maruping was uncovered by Business for SA last week and saw the personal data of South African employees being exposed to other registered users.

“A number of employer applicants have detected serious security breaches in the system, with some data being accessible by other applicants,” Business for SA said.

“The UIF site opened for TERS applications for June on Wednesday (24 June) morning,” Business for SA told MyBroadband.

“We realized there was a problem soon after 13:00 when a few businesses that were attempting to lodge claims on behalf of their employees notified us they were seeing details of other firms’ applications. We then issued the warning.”

One example seen on a screenshot from an applicant was a list of employees of another firm, including names, periods of service, ID numbers, and email addresses

Maruping assured South Africans in his statement that the fund has sourced “external resources” to help resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Now read: How the SA Post Office has recovered after lockdown

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Big problems with UIF COVID-19 relief fund – Payment delays and security breach