VPN connectivity derails court process what may have happened?

Daudi Suleman

Anger, disappointment, fury dominated Malawi High Court Lilongwe registry following the failure by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)  team to establish a connection to their VPN network through their service provider TNM.

Malawi Congress Party had been expected to parade its IT expert Daudi Suleman as a witness in the ongoing presidential elections results nullification case. Suleman had asked to simulate the results tabulation using MEC computers.

But people connected to and interested in the case waited all morning until the court announced in the afternoon that the case had been adjourned to Wednesday morning.

Some were heard shouting that MEC had probably sabotaged the process.

What may have happened?

A model VPN network
A model VPN network

To start with a VPN is a short for a Virtual Private Network which  extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.

Virtual Private Network can guarantee confidentialityauthentication and integrity of the data messages transported across the network as the data is encrypted and cannot be changed easily while in transit.

VPNs are often used to connect different office locations, or to allow people working from outside the company network to access its resources.

Going back to the MEC scenario some VPN experts close to Kulinji have questioned why the process took so long, saying it normally takes about an hour to set up such.

The expert suspects that there might have been some poor network connectivity.

"It's possible that they're trying to find a signal to their point of presence, as explained by the movement of their antenna. So may be they're finding a weak signal or else they're failing to find a signal at all.

"There can be so many reasons as to why they are not finding a signal, for example if their equipment is point in a different direction and they're shooting on another side, you get a poor signal. It can also be about distance they are shooting from to where their equipment is positioned," she said.

MEC and TNM have however assured that they should be up and running by the time the court case resumes on Wednesday.