Government urged to tackle security concerns on public sector network

The announcement of the government’s plans to create a unified public sector network (PSN), has been greeted with worried noises from within the data security industry, where many believe that serious flaws could be present if the network is developed with excessive haste.

At the moment most public sector organisations have their own IT networks for data storage, but the PSN would create a single solution and make the sharing of data between different bodies significantly easier, thanks to cloud computing on a national scale.

The PSN is partly being implemented to help make savings. Half a billion pounds is calculated to be the annual amount by which its creation will reduce IT costs across the public sector.

The government is hoping that by unifying the currently fragmented networks under one metaphorical roof, it will be able to improve accessibility and inter-departmental data handling.

Security expert Simon Wiseman, who has more than three decades of experience in working on data security for the government, has said that he remains unconvinced that the level of protection offered by the proposed PSN is adequate for the task in hand.

Mr Wiseman believes that the PSN is being pushed into action before it is fully finished. He feels little attention is being paid to the data loss prevention and security measures, which could help to minimise the risks posed to the huge stores of data which it will eventually house.

Mr Wiseman is in favour of gradual implementation of the PSN rather than immediate national roll-out, with trial runs used to determine any weaknesses.

With multiple cloud applications running on the PSN, Mr Wiseman asserted that a flaw in just one could compromise the integrity of the whole system. Cybercriminals with aims of hacking into essential services would also have greater scope for causing havoc, he said.

There are various concerned parties who view the hurried implementation of the PSN with concern and while it is recognised that security must be utmost in the minds of those behind its creation, many believe that for the system to truly become a success, the security measures will have to be as user-friendly and simple as possible.

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