Malaysia's airport security system vulnerable to power outages, internet disruptions

Passengers and airline staff at  Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2).
Passengers and airline staff at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2).PHOTO: THE STAR

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia's airport immigration security system, under investigation for its frequent breakdowns, has not been compromised but is vulnerable to power outages and internet service disruptions, said the company which maintains it.

The RM30 million (S$10.1 million) Malaysia Immigration system (myIMMs) is linked to the Interpol database to verify within seconds if a passport has been stolen or reported lost.

"MyIMMs is a secure application that accesses various security databases on numerous devices but its reliability also depends on public utilities," Malay Mail Online on Monday (May 23) quoted HeiTech Padu Berhad Group's Chief Executive Officer Arif Mokhtar as saying.

"There are instances of power outages in KLIA (KL International Airport) and that will cause disruption to the entire system and immigration officers will not be able to access myIMMs on their work desk until power is restored."

He said the auxiliary component of the system was also prone to technical difficulties and would cause the system to experience slowdowns or lags, the news portal reported.

"We do have technicians on site to deal with any technical issues with myIMMs and they conduct diagnostics for every reported disruption or incidence," he said. "Based on their findings, the system would run fine but they were crippled by support components such as Internet routers or modem affected by a sudden reboot to their system or any other technical difficulties.


The system involved many different databases, which are developed and maintained by various parties, according to the report.

"We provide and maintain the framework for the system but the integrity of separate databases falls under other companies and government agencies," Mr Arif said. "Databases such as those for biometrics and international security are not under our purview as our main duty is to integrate all the data into one platform.

Malay Mail Online said the system is backed by five main local companies, including HeiTech Padu, which create databases and other features used by the system,

Malaysia's Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed told The Straits Times last week that the 20-year-old computer system sometimes "crashes" several times a day, leading to suspicion that it is being deliberately compromised.

A recent spate of arrests involving foreigners with terror links has raised alarm and questions over how they could have entered the country, given the Interpol link-up.

The Auditor-General's report for last year found that data in the system was inaccurate and that "data integrity was suspicious".