Sometimes you can't win on data integrity

Summary:The person who carefully makes sure that information systems processes are in place to reduce the risk of inconsistencies in a database of employees with security clearance is probably feeling very let down right now.

The person who carefully makes sure that information systems processes are in place to reduce the risk of inconsistencies in a database of employees with security clearance is probably feeling very let down right now.

Last night on Lateline, there was a report about three whistleblowers who claimed that senior defence staff told employees to fast-track security clearances by filling in empty fields with made up information to save time.

Information that could have been falsified included previous employment history or where the employee had lived.

"These clearances were being done for military personnel, for government employees of all kinds across the board in different areas. Including, you know, those that were working in any sensitive area," one of the whistleblowers said.

According to Lateline, this could mean private security guards working on bases, Australian staff working in embassies overseas, senior public servants with access to sensitive information and Defence personnel such as intelligence officers.

Let's leave out the problems with security that such conduct might cause by allowing illegitimate employees security clearances, which is only possible. What is certain is that, if what the whistleblowers say is true, the database of information on people with security clearances is totally compromised — and whistleblowers believed that the number of falsified records would number in the thousands.

As one of the whistleblowers said, "When there was so much — so many lies, falsification, outright fabrication mixed in with truth — it just rendered the whole thing nonsense. And how can we — I mean, there were so many like that, who can say which ones are correct?"

Defence told Lateline that there was "no evidence" to suggest that security clearances have been compromised, saying that the vetting process was "rigorous". It said that allegations of fabrication of information in clearances would be investigated.

I hope so, because it makes a total mockery of security and data integrity.

Topics: Government, Big Data, Data Management, Government : AU, Security

About

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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