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Byte-size glitches signal systems failure

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If the government thought it would have time to settle and get a handle on running the country – it has been in power for 50 days, and the wheels are beginning to slide on the slippery surface.

What the government will contend with after 100 days since taking the hot seat is anybody’s guess – for now, there is enough to do.

Presidents like to consider leaving a legacy to be remembered by, a solid benchmark of achievements that people can sit on and feel comfortable with.

They want history to be kind to them with the gift of hindsight, a rather volatile tool to be judged with.

It is no secret the Anastasiades administration tried to paper over the cracks as best it could and quickly leave the room before the roof fell in.

And new boy Nikos Christodoulides is discovering the hard way what irresponsible – or should we say laissez-faire – government looks like.

Less than two months running the country, and the new administration has been busy putting out fires not of its own making.

This first serious public disorder incident was hooligan violence at a basketball game that caught the police off guard.

An indoor stadium was trashed, a bush station torched to the ground, and a high-profile cup game abandoned.

A subsequent Justice Ministry investigation concluded that police miscalculated the risk while making operational errors on the day.

Whatever happens next, it won’t be the last act of hooliganism to mar a sporting event because there is no joined-up approach to tackle the phenomenon from the clubs and those who run the game.

Tougher measures have been unveiled, but sporting fixtures can’t be treated like a possible prison riot; it is supposed to be entertainment.

But that’s what happens when unruly behaviour by a minority is tolerated for too long while the authorities believe they can throw words at the problem for it to go away.

Well, how’s that working out for you so far?

The government has sounded tougher on getting to grips with troublemakers but needs to display stamina for the long haul.

Flooded basement

After the hooligan emergency and questions about what kind of society we live in – the government’s digital footprint went missing in a flooded ministry basement.

Earlier this week, the government’s online presence went dark after a water leak sank its IT hub housed in the Finance Ministry basement.

E-government services were knocked offline; the call centre went dead, ministry websites vanished, and government emails and the internet were victims.

Exposed

Government servers were shunted offline not due to malevolent hackers taking the system out but because sensitive equipment was exposed to danger.

A decision was taken six months ago to move the servers to a secure custom-built facility, but government bureaucracy dictates that taking action belongs in a parallel universe.

For all the talk of a brave new world inspired by digital transformation and upskilling – the government apparatus was undone because of the vicinity of a water tank to the state’s IT hub.

You don’t need to sign an agreement with telecom firms and launch an investigation to realise that water and electric cables don’t mix.

If this is how the government digital service and cyber security works, then we are better off switching back to analogue.

Putting Cyprus on the ethernet superhighway is cumbersome, chaotic and disaster-prone.

Granted, the President has owned the mistake, vowed to do better and avoided passing the buck to his predecessor.

It should serve as a wake-up call that the government lacks expertise in cybersecurity, the digital economy and securing its systems from harmful data breaches.

Already state institutions have been targeted and paralysed by hackers.

These warnings are there for Cyprus to get cyber-savvy because our online future depends on it.

Of course, there is no guarantee against any malicious attack, although the real crime is not being prepared when you can see the danger coming.

Virtual reality

And while the government was getting to grips with virtual reality, another blast from the past has dented its new look.

Cypriot ‘fixers’ were named on US and UK sanctions lists for enabling Russian oligarchs to sidestep financial embargoes enforced on Kremlin sympathisers for invading Ukraine.

Also on the growing sanctions list were more Russians who had bought Cyprus passports.

Again the President called another emergency meeting of his ministers to rescue the situation.

Another investigation was launched to try and contain the reputational damage to Cyprus as a trustworthy investment destination.

Guess who will be cracking heads, not eggs, this Easter?