Feeds

Cyberspooks sceptical on UK.gov's IT cost-cutting plans

Cloud threatened by security risks, says GCHQ

The essential guide to IT transformation

Exclusive Whitehall IT chiefs have been warned by the intelligence agency GCHQ that security problems with cloud computing could foil their plans to use the technology to slash the cost of public services.

The assessment forms part of the first report of the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC), seen by The Register. The new internet intelligence gathering unit, located at GCHQ's "concrete doughnut" in Cheltenham, will begin operations next month.

"Cloud computing could form an important part of government cost-cutting exercises, but cloud computing hosts are likely to want to site their storage where it is cheapest for them to do so, which may mean that sensitive information or intellectual property is physically stored in another country, potentially one which might have an interest in using the information for its own purposes," CSOC says.

The report was prepared for the Cabinet Office, which sets overall government IT strategy. CIO John Suffolk recently promoted cloud computing technology and use of private providers as ways to cut costs.

"You can't have hundreds of data centres and tens or even hundreds of networks. You have to ask 'Do we need to do all this ourselves?'," he said.

"I just don't think it's a suitable model for the next ten years."

However, CSOC sounds a more sceptical tone. It explains that while for some users cloud computing will bring security benefits, because malware protection will be managed by the service provider, the risks could be great.

"Compromised login credentials would give an attacker access to the user's whole system from anywhere in the world, enabling a full identity theft," the report says.

"This could limit the usefulness of cloud computing to government and commercial organisations unless a solution is found."

CSOC's view acts as a counterpoint to enthusiasm for cloud computing in Westminster and Whitehall as they gear up for a bout of massive post-recession cuts.

The technology figures large in the Conservatives' IT strategy, too. Criticising the current government's record of schedule and budget overruns on large IT projects, they have suggested commercial operators such as Google and Microsoft could maintain health records in the cloud, for example.

As well as highlighting direct security threats to cloud public services from data theft, the CSOC report also warns that increasing official reliance on the internet could cause a "catastrophic" breakdown in confidence in the government if the UK were subject to a cyber attack such as distributed denial of service. We reported in detail on that earlier this week. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION
Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.