November 2007 Archives

E-Petition for action on E-Crime on No10 Website

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The petition calls on 'the Prime Minister to give the formation of a police central e-crime unit, as proposed by the Metropolitan Police and ACPO, urgent priority' including to help limit the damage from recent data leaks.

From top secret to toilet paper

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Until last week, HMG information assurance policy assumed that hundred of thousands of public servants would follow security procedures better than the Wermacht, Luftwaffe and Gestapo whose codes were broken by Bletchley Park.

Tackling the crisis of confidence in the on-line world

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Recent revelations as to the scale and nature of data losses in both public and private sectors, like events at the Northern Rock, show that current information governance regimes are not fit for purpose. So who can be trusted to act?

I blame John Humphries

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Many of the centralised, top-down projects (doomed to fail before they even start) of recent years result from the need for Ministers to respond to media demands for "something to be done" about the scandal of the day.

Doomed from inception

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Most public sector 'partnerships' are doomed before the procurement begins, let alone the implementaton. The exceptions are where service recipients and delivery partners are fully involved in the initial planning.

Death by Data Protection

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Those who believe in the benefits of the on-line world must act rapidly and effectively to turn the current backlash against its perceived insecurity into well-informed votes of customer confidence in those who practice, not just preach, secure information sharing.

There but for the grace of God goes your CIO/CFO

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Much will be written about the loss of a couple of CDs of personal data by HMRC. But it is those organisations which track their data and report such losses that are publicly crucified. Those that keep quiet and cover up...

Trusted, sustainable partnership or cynical manipulation?

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"Who do you trust? The Government, Marmite, Michael Fish .. Tesco .. ? So begins Matthew Gwyther, in a Management Today editorial on corporate trust. Debate over on-line trust is even more surreal.

Lions led by donkeys: the 1918 Whitehall time-capsule

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Last week, in describing the challenge of moving towards citizen-centric service delivery, Sir David Varney reminded his audience that the current structure of Whitehall dates back to 1918, when Lloyd George's coalition government decided to organise the post World-War 1 public services in vertical silos, each with its own legislative powers. In order to protect against abuse the agencies were often forbidden to share information except under specific circumstances.

The minutes of the first of the EURIM "Transformational Government Dialogues are now available and help explain why the reform of public service delivery is so important, why it is so difficult and why technology enthusiasts are all too often part of the problem, not the solution,

A single European Telecoms Market v. The Global Internet

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Yesterday the European Commission published its plans for a Single European Telecommunications Market . Meanwhile the Internet faced a "Bretton Woods Moment" .

The Bretton Woods Conference, which created the world systems for commercial and financial management was even less well reported in the world press in July 1944 than the
Internet Governance Forum on Rio de Janeiro that is happening this week. But the consequences of the IGF meeting are likely to be at least as profound.

How resilient is your infrastructure

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Yesterday I received the following "Update" from Ofcom

"New Ofcom notification service - advanced notice of possible interuption to Global Positioning Systems: The Ministry of Defence conduct occasional tests on military systems which may result in some loss of service to civilian users of the Global Positioning System (GPS) including in-car navigation devices and networks which rely on GPS signals. Ofcom has today launched a new email update notification service to give advanced notification of these tests - To sign up for these email updates please register here: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/subscribe/select_list.htm

Who should be reponsible for on-line security?

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Yesterday the Cabinet Office Mnister, Gillian Merron MP presided over the launch of the annual Get Safe On-line security awareness campaign. The GSOL website now includes material on business, as well as consumer protection and every customer-facing website should have a hot-link. And if you think the material needs improving, join up and help improve it.

Those at the launch event heard the usual barrage of statistics, this time from a survey of 2000 adults conducted by ICM in October. Three hit home.

- 88% of end users (and 99% of SMEs) now have some form of Internet Security software,
- 73% believe some-one else should have prime responsbility for their on-line security, usually those who want them to transact on-line (i.e. only 27% beleive they themselves should have prime responsbility)
- 36% will not bank on-line (and 21% will not even shop on-line).

Funding for high level ICT skills updating slashed

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Do you agree with the decision by the new Department for Innovation Universities and Skills to withdraw funding for ICT skills updating programmes, including the MSc conversion programmes that are our main source of high level security skills.

If so, do nothing.

If not read the HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) consultation on the Withdrawal of funding for equivalent or lower qualfications and reply before the 7th December.

The Conservative Government similarly withdrew funding for MSc Conversion Courses twenty years ago, helping exacerbate the then IT skills crisis and triggering the start of the trend towards offshoring..

The effect of this short-sighted action will be to hasten the demise of what is left - because the "exemptions" for critical skills in short supply do not currently include those needed to produce reliable, secure ICT systems, network or content. Such skills need continual updating - and MSc Conversion courses are one of the main sources.

Targets drive wrong behaviour: People not Systems

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One of the "joys" of the on-line world is that you cannot be sick in peace. Having worked for months on the programme I was most annoyed to miss the first of the EURIM Transformational Dialogues, because I was laid low with a truly vicious non-electronic virus. However, the world now comes to my sick bed and I have received five different accounts of what happened - as well as the "official" summary. What is certain is that it was a great success: whether success is counted by the number of MPs participating or what they and the industry partners and civil services "observers" helping this exercise learned. The common message is "that change can occur when you can get structure, systems and culture working together" but all too often a mixture of fear and targets prevents public servants from providing joined-up service to those in most need.

How safe is your data? - on-line or off?

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Next week will see the annual Get Safe On-line campaign and also the Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro - at which the need to improve security will be a major thread. Last week the government response to the report of the House of Lords select committee enquiry on Personal Internet Safety was published. The doctrine of Ministerial Infallibily means that no department can publicly accept in full the recommendations of a committee that it did not appoint. The wording of the response is, however, such that I would expect all the main recommendations to have been adopted before the next General Election - provided they have the necessary support and commitment from industry: users as well as suppliers.

Big bang is dead: Christmas has been cancelled

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Some still view the Transformational Government Agenda as the ICT industry's invitation to write to Father Christmas for a new generation of big, new consultancy contracts and systems.

How wrong they are.

The rhetoric at the party conferences, the subsequent Comprehensive Spending Review and now the Queen's speach indicate clearly that those selling to the public sector have to adjust to a world in which they and their departmental customers will be under increasing pressure to co-operate across organisational and commercial boundaries, competing over time on delivered cost and quality of service, rather than up-front on price.

What happened to the Crosby Review?

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William Heath asks “what happened to the Crosby review” in his “Ideal Government” blog (a must for those of you who want to keep abreast of the thinking among the e-government movers and shakers). However, while I always find William’s insights most perceptive and his blog most informative I think he is on the wrong tack. I think that Crosby has put issues into the wider perspective and the result is even more challenging, across the whole of Whitehall, not just Home Office, than William speculates. Hence some of the drafting of the Public Service Agreement to which I referred in my entry on delivering the Transformation of Government.

Collaboration is the Key to Cybercrime

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A couple of days ago David Lacey covered the recent Parliament and Internet conference in his blog. The proposal for co-operation in the paper issued in advance of the conference break-out session on "Tackling crime and achieving confidence in the on-line world", chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael JP MP, was strongly supported by the audience, including by David. I, like David, was also profoundly impressed by the presentation by Nicholas Negroponte: not just by its potential to transform the prospects of children in the developing but also by its potential to change the nature of debate on security and cybercrime - and more - much more.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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