The Gauteng Education Department (GDE) recently launched a website which lets parents apply to have their child admitted to a government school in 2017.
Concerns have been raised over the security of the portal since its launch, with recent complaints stating it doesn’t use a secure HTTP connection to send data to the GDE’s server.
After the first complaints over the lack of encryption between the browser and the admission portal’s server surfaced online, the GDE suspended the site, citing unforeseen technical challenges.
When the website came back online on 13 April, it still didn’t have HTTPS.
While the lack of an encrypted channel for the website does not necessarily mean the GDE has weak security on the databases that store user data, it does raise concerns.
Parents who can’t or do not wish to use the website must visit help desks in their districts for assistance.
The GDE was asked why it doesn’t have an SSL/TLS certificate installed on its admissions website, but it did not respond by the time of publication.
Website beefed up after downtime
News24 reported that the GDE increased the capacity of its website after it crashed on 11 April when online school registrations opened.
The site had 600 hits per second on Monday, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi told reporters on Wednesday.
“Work has been done on the servers and the website would now be able to handle 3,000 visitors per second,” stated the report.
The department has also decided to do away with the first phase of the application process following the crash.
“We were meant to have two phases, the first being parents pre-loading theirs and their children’s details. The second phase would have been the actual application… We have taken a decision to suspend the first phase so that we can concentrate on the actual registration,” said Lesufi .
“The registration process will start at 8:00 on 19 April.”