NetOne Employees Arrested for Attempted IT System Hack
1 July 2024
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Two employees of NetOne, Zimbabwe’s leading telecommunications provider, have been arrested and brought to court following an attempted hack of the company’s IT system. Brand officer Linda Mutemeri, 30, and billing engineer Anotida Dee Munyaradzi, 30, appeared before Harare magistrate Mr. Dennis Mangosi. The pair was remanded in custody pending their bail application today.

The State alleges that from February to July last year, Mutemeri and Munyaradzi conspired with Blessing Tizirai Mudarikwa, a known hacker who remains at large, to infiltrate the NetOne system and misappropriate funds.

According to court documents, the accused conducted WhatsApp conference calls to strategize on how to gain unauthorized access to the company’s IT system. These discussions laid the groundwork for their illegal activities, which involved sharing highly confidential and sensitive internal configurations of NetOne with Mudarikwa.

The State claims that Mutemeri and Munyaradzi connected their personal computers to the NetOne system from external locations. This unauthorized connection enabled Mudarikwa to penetrate the system. Fortunately, due to robust security measures, he was unable to access the pool account, which is a critical financial repository within the system.

Despite their failure to breach the pool account, the unauthorized access by the accused potentially compromised NetOne’s financial resources, posing a significant risk of financial loss. The State is treating this breach with utmost seriousness given the potential ramifications for the company and its customers.

In court, prosecutors emphasized the gravity of the alleged crimes, highlighting how the integrity of NetOne’s systems was jeopardized by the actions of Mutemeri, Munyaradzi, and their accomplice. The case underscores the ongoing challenges faced by organizations in protecting their digital infrastructure from internal and external threats.

NetOne has yet to issue an official statement regarding the arrests, but the incident has sparked concerns about the security measures in place to safeguard the company’s IT systems and financial assets.

As investigations continue, the telecommunications sector and the wider business community in Zimbabwe are closely watching the developments of this case, which highlights the critical importance of cybersecurity and the severe consequences of its breach.