HK to establish secure central Internet gateway for govt

HONG KONG, Oct 27 (Asia Pulse) - Promoting the awareness of Internet-related data protection is an important goal of the Government, the Director of Information Technology Services,Mr Lau Kam-hung, said Tuesday.Speaking at a seminar on the protection of data on the Internet today, Mr Lau said that personal data on the Internet were vulnerable if they were not properly protected.

HONG KONG, Oct 27 (Asia Pulse) - Promoting the awareness of Internet-related data protection is an important goal of the Government, the Director of Information Technology Services, Mr Lau Kam-hung, said Tuesday.

Speaking at a seminar on the protection of data on the Internet today, Mr Lau said that personal data on the Internet were vulnerable if they were not properly protected. "White-collar criminals have taken advantage of the new business opportunities brought by the rapid development and wide adoption of Internet technology to commit crimes," Mr Lau said.

"Hackers and crackers are no strangers to us," he said. There had been 102 cases of hacking reported to the Police in the first seven months of 1999, compared with 13 cases in the whole of 1998.

In order to keep its own information infrastructure secure, government bureaux and departments follow a set of security guidelines to protect their information technology (IT) resources.

Mr Lau said: "We will strengthen the security by establishing the Secure Central Internet Gateway (SCIG) to enable government bureaux and departments to gain access to the Internet, to disseminate information and to communicate with the public over the Internet through a secure and centrally managed gateway."

"The SCIG, to be set up early next year, will adopt internationally accepted Internet security standards, and will protect government bureaux and departments by means of firewalls, virus detection systems and proactive intrusion detection systems," he added.

Mr Lau also pointed out that the "Digital 21" IT Strategy had laid down several initiatives to facilitate the conduct of business and other transactions securely on the Internet.

Meanwhile, the Government is working towards the development of a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to provide a framework for authenticating the identity of participants performing electronic transactions in Hong Kong.

The PKI will not only allow government services to be delivered securely over the public networks, it will also lay a foundation for the delivery of electronic services of other organisations.

"To protect consumer interests and enhance users' confidence in electronic transactions, my department is going to set up a Certification Authority Recognition Office by the end of the year," Mr Lau said.

He noted that Certification Authorities (CAs) were free to apply for recognition on a voluntary basis, but only those CAs which had achieved a trust standard and adopted a common and open interface in their operation would be recognised. The Government also introduced the Electronic Transactions Bill into the Legislative Council in July this year, to provide the necessary legal framework for the conduct of electronic transactions in Hong Kong. (Hong Kong Government Information Service.)

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