Government overhauls security classification to fit digital age

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Government overhauls security classification to fit digital age

Karl Flinders

In its first overhaul since World War II, the government is consolidating six security bands to three with a system deemed more appropriate in the digital age.

The government hopes to reduce IT running costs by moving away from bespoke systems, increasing availability of cloud services and introducing a greater range of technology such as smartphone devices. Information will be classified as restricted and loosely regrouped as “official”, meaning a greater range of phones will be given the green light to handle sensitive data.

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The government security classifications will be fundamentally overhauled for the first time since World War II.

The six existing levels: Unclassified, Protect, Restricted, Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret, will be replaced by Official, Secret and Top Secret.

The new bands, which are part of the Civil Service Reform programme, will be used by over 700,000 civil servants and military personnel from April next year, and will be adopted by the wider public.

The Cabinet Office said the current system dates from a time when civil servants worked exclusively with paper. “Carrying forward essentially clerical processes into our IT has led to unnecessary controls, complexity, and misunderstandings that obscure common sense protections. Reforming the system will help save the taxpayer money, enabling government to buy standardised IT rather than costly bespoke solutions.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude (pictured), said: “Whitehall uses a security classification system designed decades ago. We are changing that and introducing a new system fit for the digital age."


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