Cabinet Office eases UK IT fears

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office has told CW360 that the British government's IT infrastructure is safe against terrorist...

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office has told CW360 that the British government's IT infrastructure is safe against terrorist attack.

"All government installations have contingency planning that includes IT systems and networks," the spokesman said. "Appropriate back-up facilities are in place to ensure maximum resilience."

The Cabinet Office is developing a back-up site in an attempt to improve security. "It will be implemented as soon as possible and will be at another government site," the spokesman said. "In the meantime, we have implemented a temporary second site that will mirror the primary site in its full capacity and functionality. This site will be used if and when it is needed."

The Government Gateway, which sits behind the main government information site, UKonline, is the hub of electronic government services. The multi-server system uses a variety of disk storage subsystems and power supplies. However, a small fire in one of the Gateway's data centres was enough to shut down the system last week.

The prime minister, Tony Blair, has tightened security throughout the country following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and UKonline will play an important role in supplying security-related information.

"Ukonline is as a focal point for government information online. It was always envisaged that this would be the case in an emergency. The site will continue to provide government news and links to official information on the crisis as well as emergency helpline numbers," the Cabinet Office said.

The City of London police urged businesses to be more aware of the threat posed by terrorism if they are to avoid financial ruin. Tim Parsons, a police spokesman, , said: "We would reiterate to London firms the importance of putting into action the recommendations we made after 1993's Bishopsgate IRA bombing. You must have a business continuity scheme, with plans such as rapid relocation and IT back-up systems to get you working again as soon as possible.

"Individual firms and institutions must decide how much to invest in areas such as disaster recovery and back-up systems, and this is a commercial decision. One would hope that events in the US would serve to illustrate the real cost of not having these plans in place."

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