Sunday, June 30, 2013

Victoria upgrading security to plug cabinet cyber leaks

Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula said the government was effectively using IT to monitor the public service.

Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula said the government was effectively using IT to monitor the public service.

The Victorian government is on a mission to plug leaks and will upgrade ageing IT systems that pose a ''significant security threat'' to confidential cabinet documents.

It follows a series of damaging leaks of cabinet-in-confidence documents, including the transition plans for Victoria's TAFEs, which revealed the far-reaching impacts of the government's $300 million cuts to the sector.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet hired consultants in 2011 who found cabinet processes ''posed a significant security threat'' and required a high volume of manual processing.

A tender document put out by the department said the outdated IT systems ''cannot be used for secure electronic transmission of cabinet-in-confidence documents'' and a new, secure system was needed for the sensitive documents.

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Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula described the project as a ''leak-plugging exercise'' and said the government was effectively using IT to monitor the public service. ''The real question is whether this is about cyber security or whether it is about plugging leaks and avoiding political embarrassment.''

Last week, Fairfax Media revealed that highly sensitive Ombudsman files containing commercial-in-confidence documents and witness statements faced ''significant risk'' because they were being stored on the government's troubled IT agency CenITex.

An independent review said storing the information on a system that was not controlled by the Ombudsman could lead to ministerial advice being leaked and ''detrimental action'' against whistleblowers.

The project will be deemed a success if it reduces the number of cabinet documents being hand delivered and emailed throughout the government.

It must also let the Cabinet Secretariat audit access and control access, printing, copying and forwarding of cabinet material.

A department spokeswoman said specialist skills were needed to make the cabinet-in-confidence system more efficient.

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