Feeds

Microsoft online app melodrama wins federal certification

Feds underline Redmondian Google envy

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Microsoft's BPOS-Federal suite of online business applications has been certified for use by the US government. Which highlights the fact that it wasn't certified earlier.

Earlier this month, Microsoft made headlines when it accused Google of making "misleading security claims" to the US government, an accusation that hinged on whether Mountain View's Google Apps for Government suite had been certified under the requirements of FISMA (the Federal Information Security Management Act).

The irony was that Microsoft's suite of online applications for government agencies – Business Productivity Online Services-Federal – had won a major contract from the US Department of the Interior even though it had not been FISMA certified.

Naturally, Google pointed this out. And it insisted that Microsoft's claims about Google Apps for Government were false: that its suite had been certified. Microsoft cited recently unsealed court documents in which the Department of Justice (DoJ) said Apps for Government lacked certification. But the situation is more complicated than this might indicate.

Last July, Google received certification for its Google Apps Premier Edition suite, and then it promptly released Apps for Government, which makes two "security enhancements" to Premier Edition. Last year, according to Google, it consulted with the General Services Administration (GSA), the organization that awarded its FISMA certification, and the GSA said that the Google Apps for Government name and its security enhancements could be incorporated into Google's existing certification. It appears, however, that this has yet to officially happen.

"We take the federal government’s security requirements seriously and have delivered on our promise to meet them. What’s more, we’ve been open and transparent with the government, and it’s irresponsible for Microsoft to suggest otherwise," Google said in a blog post.

The two security enhancements are relatively straightforward – though they're more about peace of mind than security. Unlike Google Apps Premier Edition, Apps for Government segregates Gmail and Google Calendar data in a section of Google's back-end infrastructure that's separate from services used by non-government users, and Google ensures that all data centers housing these segregated applications are located in the continental United States.

This past fall, Google sued the US Department of the Interior (DOI), claiming that the agency did not give Google a fair chance to win a contract to provide email and collaboration services for the DOI's roughly 88,000 employees. The contract went to Microsoft – but in response to Google's suit, a federal judge issued a temporary court order preventing the DOI from moving to Microsoft BPOS-Federal.

When the DOI sent out an RFQ (request for quotation) for online email services, according to Google's lawsuit, the agency said it would consider only proposals involving Microsoft BPOS. Google said this was "unduly restrictive of competition", and according to the suit the DOI expressed concern over Google's ability to meet FISMA requirements and provide a service whose infrastructure is dedicated to the DOI.

And yet BPOS was not FISMA-certified. We know this because, on Wednesday, Microsoft announced its newly won certification in a blog post.

The DoJ's statement about Google Apps for Government lacking FISMA certification arrived as part of the court case brought by Google. The irony is deep. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
US Supreme Court supremo rakes Aereo lawman in oral arguments
Antenna-array content streamers: 'Ruling against us could dissipate the cloud'
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.