By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 20 October 2015:
Today was supposed to be the day that the online booking system for the new . . .[restrict]e-passports finally started working. It did not. The passport department blamed an overwhelmed server, insufficient people, the lack of a firewall and an attack by hackers.
A despairing reader called the Libya Herald to say that since 7am he had been trying to log on to the site and for five hours and he had been receiving the message “HTTP Error 503. The service in unavailable”. This generally means either that the server is too busy or that maintenance is being performed on it.
The pent-up demand for the new electronic passports has not been lessened by the decision of the ICAO to hold off making their use mandatory for Libyans wishing to fly.
A message later appeared on the passport department web page saying that the site had been suspended because of an overload of applications and “ a lack of reliable officers”. The message also said that, because it lacked firewalls, “evil-minded hackers” had managed to break into the entire system and compromise it.
It concluded by saying that a firewall was being installed and that the system would be back up and running as soon as the technical work had been completed.
Calls to a man who in the past has acted as a spokesman for the passport office were unsuccessful. Both his phones were turned off.