U.K. govt warned over data transfer security

A report by the U.K. Cabinet Office claims the government lacks the necessary mechanisms to ensure secure data transfer.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The U.K. government does not have adequate mechanisms in place to secure data transfer, according to a report prepared on behalf of the Cabinet Office.

Government departmental security is in silos, and there are currently no adequate mechanisms in place to share data, according to the report, the Independent Review of Government Information Assurance.

"The challenge now is to enable joined-up government, which means connecting to more environments and sharing more data in an environment that is increasingly hostile," reads a synopsis of the report. "Government departments are actively trying to address these challenges; however, adequate mechanisms are not yet in place to support them in achieving this, which puts at risk the government's aspirations for service delivery enabled by technology."

In some parts of government and the wider public sector, there is a lack of comprehensive understanding of information security risks, according to the review, which examined best practice and security issues that need addressing. "Government needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the risks it is facing," said the report.

Written by security expert Nick Coleman, the report said that the government still needs to put clear security policies in place, to ensure those policies are being delivered, and to ensure compliance. There also need to be specific standards for identity registration, management and use, and security needs to be measured and audited to a defined standard, said the report.

The findings echo statements by a key government advisor who claimed that civil servants lack security awareness.

"What keeps me awake at night is that, with some notable exceptions, across government, there's too little awareness of the scale and breadth of the risk facing us at the moment," Lieutenant General Sir Edmund Burton, a key advisor to the Cabinet Office on information assurance, said in February.

Just a few weeks before that, security experts expressed their concerns over the U.K. government's data-sharing plans.

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