Tag Archives: Government

UK Armed Forces at Risk of Cyber Attack

MPs have warned that Britain’s armed forces could be “fatally compromised” by a sustained cyber attack due to their ever increasing reliance on information and communication technology that have no proven backup or contingency plans in place.

The Defence Select Committee has released a report that questions the military’s contingency plans and that the government needs to become more proactive and take control of the situation as quickly as possible.

James Arbuthnot, the committee’s chairman, stated, “It is our view that cyber security is a sufficiently urgent, significant and complex activity to warrant increased ministerial attention. The Government needs to put in place – as it has not yet done – mechanisms, people, education, skills, thinking and policies which take into account both the opportunities and the vulnerabilities which cyberspace presents.”

If the armed forces were to be hit by a sustained cyber attack, the consequences could be frightening. Entire combat units such as battleship and aircraft units could be deemed useless as radars and satellites could be targeted and paint a false picture of the battlefield.

The committee also stated, “The evidence we received leaves us concerned that with the armed forces now so dependent on information and communications technology, should such systems suffer a sustained cyber attack, their ability to operate could be fatally compromised.”

The Minister for International Security Strategy, Dr Andrew Murrison, has defended the Government’s level of involvement and efforts so far.

Murrison stated, “Far from being complacent, the MoD takes the protection of our systems extremely seriously and has a range of contingency plans in place to defend against increasingly sophisticated attacks although, for reasons of national security, we would not discuss these in detail. Government funding to tackle this threat underlines the importance we attach to these issues.”

Jim Murphy who is the Shadow defence secretary has stressed the importance to continue to develop cyber-security strategies and for everyone to work together to help improve the defences against the ever evolving cyber attacks.

Murphy stated, “Developing professional expertise, advanced research, bringing public and private sectors together, using procurement to promote best practice and working with international partners are all essential elements of a comprehensive cyber-security strategy for our forces. Vulnerabilities must be tackled urgently and ministers must respond in detail to the demands in this report. Cyber demands new strategies and capabilities as part of a necessarily diverse modern defence posture.”

With the ever increasing sophistication and number of cyber attacks that are taking place, the importance of having a secure and robust backup solution and contingency plans in place is as great as ever. Becoming the victim of a successful cyber attack could lead to catestrophic consequences in both the short and long term if your data is lost or modified and cannot be successfully recovered.

HMRC Commits to the G-Cloud

Beginning this Autumn HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will commence migration of their data from locally stored offices to a hosted central government storage deposit in the G-Cloud. This is a big move for any large government department and it shows that the public sector is warming to what the cloud has to offer.

The G-Cloud is the government initiative setup to provide the public sector with a pool of approved private companies with whom they can work as well as providing businesses with a reference to their reliability and standards when trying to bring in public sector customers. The pool of approved providers also improves procurement times for the public sector as it cuts out a lot of the initial groundwork searching for potential providers during a tender, for example.

HMRC have said that their hosted storage service would be “cheaper, more secure and greener” as well as helping it to improve efficiency. As far as the Government is concerned, efficiency is a key issue and it hopes the G-Cloud will shine a light on reputable providers who can deliver good services for relatively low cost. For many public sector organisations, data growth is a problem with it becoming more and more difficult to manage which can make it difficult for the public sector to provide the services that the public require.

Phil Pavitt, CIO of HMRC estimated the annual saving to be £1 million. The deal will also push Revenue & Customs in the direction of the “smarter, more innovative solutions” that are obtainable through the cloud. Value for money is always an issue for organisations, particularly those in the public sector who are having to tighten their belts under austerity measures, so any savings will no doubt benefit HMRC in the long term.

Cloud services, of which there are many, e.g. infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS), can benefit many different types and size of business. The main benefit, in terms of cost, is the minimal investment required by the customer, something which is important for all businesses regardless of size.

For small businesses who do not have the capital to invest in expensive hardware or employ extra staff, cloud services allow SMBs to use or offer something that before would only have been possible for large companies. The minimal investment can also benefit a company wishing to use a service on a small scale before adopting it fully if they are not sure of the benefits.

At the other end of the scale, large businesses may be attracted to the cloud by a MSP with a good reputation as it gives them the assurance that a business critical function will be maintained by an experienced provider. This puts to rest the concern that staff may not be properly trained or have sufficient experience to deal with a particular area, which can cause headaches for managers.

If other big Government departments also follow suit G-Cloud could quickly become an extremely helpful tool for both businesses, who will benefit from the leads it produces, and the public sector, who will be able to spend more of their money on services to the public.

Federal Data Centre Decommission

The U.S federal government is planning to close down a massive 40% of its data centres over the course of the next four years. This means that 800 of the 2000 data centres which exist across the country will be decommissioned.

The hope is that the strategy will drastically reduce the hefty federal budget which is spent on technology every year, freeing up billions of dollars as well a substantial amount of real estate.

“With data centres that run as large as three and a half football fields, shutting down excess data centres will save taxpayers billions of dollars by cutting costs for infrastructure, real estate and energy,” commented Vivek Kundra, who is overseeing the implementation.

One obvious concern which has been raised is that of employment termination. Despite data centres not employing a huge number of people (relative to their size), potentially tens of thousands of jobs could be lost according to a number analysts.

The Obama administration has assured people however that they will attempt to re-locate people rather than let them go.

“Part of what we’re doing is making sure government employees are retooled,” said Kundra.

Another potential concern will be that held by the vendors supplying such data centres. The federal government is the largest buyer of information technology in the world, spending approximately $80 billion every year.

As Kundra explained, the project is just one aspect of an overall plan to embrace more efficient, internet era computing, a large portion of which will be the government’s move to more cloud-based applications.

“We’re cracking down on duplicative, underutilised assets across the federal government.”










Leicester City Council suffers data loss, again

A USB memory stick containing the details of around 4,000 people has been lost by Leicester City Council.

The loss, which was confirmed to a local paper, has been reported to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) who have started their own investigation into the breach. The 4000 people in question were signed up to a service called LeicesterCare, which supports vulnerable city residents. The details contained medical details and 2000 keysafe codes that allowed carers into residents homes.

A spokesperson for the council confirmed the data was encrypted. However the stick was supposed to be stored in the council offices in a locked safe each night.

The spokesperson states “We can confirm we are investigating the possible loss of a data device that contains personal details of around 4,000 LeicesterCare users. At this time we have no reason to believe this data has been removed deliberately”.

Two years ago the council suffered a similar data breach when a USB stick containing the details of a number of children went missing. At the time it was unclear if the stick was lost or stolen, however it was unencrypted. The stick went missing from a council run nursery and contained the names and addresses of the children.

Wolverhampton Data Dump

Wolverhampton City Council has proven its surprisingly complacent approach to disposing of sensitive data, as well as its apparent disregard for the privacy of the inhabitants within the area.

Documents containing medical records, employment statuses and bank details were fly tipped after being disposed around the back of a leisure centre, in a skip! The skip was later stolen and perhaps luckily the documents it contained discarded.

A subsequent investigation by the ICO revealed no surprises then by finding that the council was in breach of the Data Protection Act.

A relatively large understatement was released by the Chief of Operations for Wolverhampton, Simon Entwisle “The breach demonstrated how important it is that staff who handle data have a good understanding of the need to keep it safe at all times.”

It is appalling that data is still treated in such as haphazard way after there have been so many mistakes in the past. Previously for example the records of 25 million people were lost in the post. It is good that the ICO is efficient at recognising such data breaches – but there should be much harsher punishment for those in breach.

However since, Chief Executive Simon Warren has been made to sign a disclosure stating that he will ensure staff are properly trained in the future, in how to dispose of sensitive public data.

“The thought of people’s data being dumped on the street is worrying enough, not to mention what could have happened if it had fallen into the wrong hands. I am pleased that the council has taken the necessary steps to ensure that this type of breach does not happen again.”

Are ICT suppliers feeling the Age of Austerity chill?

With the Age of Austerity now well underway and the first twinges of cutback pain being felt, how are the ICT providers to the public sector faring?

The Coalition has made much of the efforts by Francis Maude and the Cabinet Office to rein in existing contracts and the ‘put up or shut up’ approach to securing better deals for the taxpayer.
But are the boom times really over for the public sector providers who have made hay for so long? Or is it a case that the economic imperatives have changed, but there is still money to be made for the canny provider that’s ready to adapt to the changes enforced upon it?

The answer is – life seems to be rosy for the bigger suppliers

Last week Capita, which earns around half its revenues from the public sector, said since the start of the year it has won contracts worth £244 million – nearly a third of the total value of orders booked in 2010 – and is bidding for £4.7 billion of new contracts, compared to £3.7 billion a year ago.

CEO Paul Pindar saw the cuts as a positive sign.

“The need for our public sector clients to achieve substantial cost savings and for private sector clients to increase their efficiency to remain competitive offers significant opportunities for the group going forward.

“There is much more interest in how outsourcing can help save money in central government. What we’re now looking for is implementation. What we’re expecting is a flow of contracts. We’ve given ideas of areas where savings can be made. One of those is travel administration. It’s a great opportunity for the government to save literally hundreds of millions of pounds through procurement.”

Logica is also upbeat about prospects.

CEO Andy Green said recently “The contract win of recent weeks with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the UK demonstrates our ability to compete successfully on some of the largest deals awarded so far in 2011,” he argued, while Craig Boundy, UK CEO at Logica, said: “It was a very difficult year in the public sector with the build-up to the election and the change of government. But I think the present government is committed to use technology to drive some of the savings.”

These upbeat assessments show that Public Sector ICT spending was unlikely to go away and the mantra is very about about spending better as much as spending less

Our Customers

  • ATOS
  • Age UK
  • Alliance Pharma
  • Liverpool Football Club
  • CSC
  • Centrica
  • Citizens Advice
  • City of London
  • Fujitsu
  • Government Offices
  • HCL
  • LK Bennett
  • Lambretta Clothing
  • Leicester City
  • Lloyds Register
  • Logica
  • Meadowvale
  • National Farmers Union
  • Network Rail
  • PKR

Sales question? Need support? Start a chat session with one of our experts!

For support, call the 24-hour hotline:

UK: 0800 999 3600
US: 800-220-7013

Or, if you've been given a screen sharing code:

Existing customer?

Click below to login to our secure enterprise Portal and view the real-time status of your data protection.

Login to Portal