U.K. government begins the peer-to-peer show

165 U.K. government departments are to migrate to an internal IT network to improve security and workflow.

The Government Secure Intranet (GSi) program replaces their previous system, called Legacy, which has come under some scrutiny in recent years. The new system, completed on July 31, has communications company Energis effectively acting as an ISP for a private network within which government departments can communicate.

"Government is an absolute target for worms, viruses and malware. What we needed to create was a safe network in which government departments can communicate and operate more efficiently," said Andrew Swaffer, GSi client director at Energis.

The service will feed some 350,000 staff and has already been put into use by some of the larger departments, such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

All government departments have an option which level of service they take, from the simple peer-to-peer service to anti-spam and content and image control. Currently around a sixth are using the anti-spam service – the content and image control will be available from September.

If the migration is successful Energis plan to extend it to local authorities.

"It's a big challenge, but there are business and operational benefits to what we're doing here," said Swaffer. "The biggest obstacle is that in order to get on board local government has to sort it's own systems out first. It's a huge task."

In June SC reported the U.K. critical national infrastructure was being targeted by hackers intent on delivering malware to systems. Swaffer and colleague Paul Hayman, director of government and public sector at Energis, said they have already seen examples of such targeted attacks. According to the company five percent of government emails received contain some sort of virus. Dictionary attacks were also cited as a growing threat.

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