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UK.gov's G Cloud may have security silver lining

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Information security experts have said the government can take advantage of the G Cloud project to improve practices in the field.

John Colley, European managing director for ISC2, the certification body for information security professionals, and Professor Howard Schmidt, president and chief executive officer of the Information Security Forum (ISF), said the emergence of cloud computing is making it possible to take a new approach to security.

They were speaking to journalists at the RSA Conference in London against the backdrop of government plans to develop the G Cloud, a framework of virtualised applications and data storage facilities for the public sector. The Cabinet Office is leading the effort, which was announced in the Digital Britain paper during the summer.

Colley told GC News that UK government has previously kept its work on information security in specialist bodies such as GCHQ and CESG, separate from the development of business functions. "But there is a whole lot of commonality and it would be good to see the two working together," he said. "The cloud gives us the opportunity to get the specification right before we get too far down the track."

He said that pressure to refresh hardware and software to meet business demands has often led to systems being implemented more quickly than the security arrangements can be developed, but that the development of the G Cloud gives government the chance to start from scratch. But it also requires a development of the right skills to handle information security, with an increased emphasis on teams of people with individual skills.

"The days of the real generalist have gone," Colley said. "We need people with the overview of security and business demands who can pull together those with the technology skills."

This ties in with the view professed by ISC2 and the ISF that there is a growing segmentation of skills, between those with a deep knowledge of specific areas of technology, the group who understand the business and have consultancy skills, and the leaders who have a grasp of strategy and how it relates to issues around risk, security and privacy.

Schmidt said the development of cloud computing on a broad scale is providing a business opportunity that could include security as a core feature. "Those looking to be purchasers of cloud computing will be going with their own list of requirements in areas such as data back-up and encryption. Government can take these things to companies working in the cloud. Some of the things government is doing are more stringent than in the private sector."

He added that there is a need for a cadre of professionals with the specialist skills to ensure the cloud provides its full potential.

The government plans to develop the G Cloud to provide 'on demand' computing services for public sector organisations. The Cabinet Office has completed a feasibility study and is now working on a business case and to identify a number of steps to provide some initial services.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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