Infosec: Government reviews data control and security

An independent reviewer will release a report next month analysing how government agencies manage and protect information.

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An independent reviewer will release a report next month analysing how government agencies manage and protect information.

The issue is becoming increasingly significant as Whitehall tries to promote data sharing across government departments.

The Information Assurance review, due to be released at the end of May, is an independent look at how different organisations structure policies around information handling, said Nick Coleman, who heads the review, which falls under the Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, part of the Cabinet office.

Coleman spoke publicly for the first time about the review at InfoSecurity Europe conference in London, although he did not offer a detailed preview of the findings.

The review will be used by Downing Street to formulate a revised national strategy on information assurance, which is due later this year, as well as updating an information assurance review released in 2004.

The independent review will encompasses areas such as leadership and governance, enterprise architecture and compliance issues, Coleman said.

It comes as the government is embroiled in major IT projects in which security and privacy are key factors. These include a national ID card programme, the National Programme for IT in the NHS and a program to strengthen border controls.

The government has an ever-increasing reliance on IT systems. Coleman reeled off a list of statistics: the Police National Computer processes 10 million requests each month; the Department for Work and Pensions handles the distribution of 13 million benefits payments every week; and it's also expected that a large proportion of the 1.3 million NHS employees will need access to patient records as part of the agency's IT modernisation programme.

"This is big scale," Coleman said.

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