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Security concerns to delay Australian government move to public cloud

Warwick Ashford

The Australian federal government's draft cloud computing strategy reveals it is in no hurry to move citizen data to the public cloud because of security concerns.

The document sets out a timetable for migrating government agencies' computing into a public cloud environment.

But the process is expected to take up to six years, with private citizen data to be the last to be moved because of security concerns, according to Australian reports.

According to the draft strategy, transitioning citizen information to the public cloud is not expected to be a viable option within the next several years unless technology becomes available to address the risks adequately.

The main concerns raised in the draft document are security, privacy, data sovereignty and legal compliance.

The Australian government's draft cloud strategy requires government agencies to notify the Department of Finance Deregulation of their intention to move to cloud to ensure a coordinated whole-of-government approach to cloud migration.

Under the proposed plan, cloud services will be provided to government agencies via a whole-of-government service provider panel.

The Department of Finance will select the panel based on data portability, business continuity, data security and disaster recovery.

Public cloud adoption for public-facing websites is scheduled in the plan to begin in 2011, while whole-of-government integration will take place from 2012 onwards.

Security is one of the most commonly cited barriers preventing IT managers from taking advantage of cloud computing, yet some experts say the cloud could and should be more secure than in-house IT.

Late last year, the UK Cabinet Office was taking legal advice over its £5.8bn cost-cutting IT programme because of the challenges presented by its G-Cloud project under EU procurement law.

Through the G-Cloud project, the Cabinet Office hopes to consolidate datacentres across the public and voluntary sectors and to aggregate their buying power to cut the government's IT budget by 30%.

Despite the Australian government's concerns about security in cloud computing, a report by think tank says the country has failed to grasp the scale of the threat posed by cyber hackers to national security, the economy and personal privacy.

According to The Australian, the report to be published by The Kokoda Foundation later this month, warns that cyber security has become the "fundamental weakness" in Australia's national security and the threat is poorly understood by both politicians and the public.


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