Government confirms security levels will be halved by 2013

The government has confirmed that it will be rationalising the current six-tier security classification model into three ‘distinct and intuitive domains’ during 2012/13.


The government has confirmed that it will be rationalising the current six tier security classification model into three ‘distinct and intuitive' domains during 2012/13.

Details have been revealed in the government’s Civil Service Reform Plan, which was released today, and aims to address changes needed in the capabilities, culture and delivery structures of the UK civil service.

The government currently applies a Business Impact Level (IL) classification to suppliers to indicate the security level of their services. IL0 (protected) is the lowest level of security, while IL6 (top secret) is the highest. IL2 is often the minimum requirement for government services, for example, it is the minimum requirement for providers bidding for network contracts.

The report reads: “The civil service needs to have robust security processes governing how well information and buildings are protected. However, many of the current arrangements have become bureaucratic and unwieldy, adding cost and time to day to day activities, and to IT systems.”

“There is significant scope for rationalisation and streamlining, without reducing effectiveness.”

Computerworld UK revealed details of the government’s plans to halve the number of security classifications after speaking to Andy Nelson, government CIO, at a cloud computing event in London last week.

Nelson said that by reducing the number of security levels, it would be easier for government to accredit IT services being provided to the public sector.

He said: “The government has a complex security marking scheme, there are six levels. We are trying to simplify that to just three to see if we can get most of government in the lowest level for most of its business.”

“If we can do that and then use commercial products and commercial accredited stamps like ISO 27001, we can definitely simplify things. We are trying to make the shift towards this but it’s not an easy journey,” he added.

Google - which recently announced that its Apps had achieved ISO 27001 certification, revealed that it is looking to gain higher security accreditations that would enable wider use of Google Apps by the UK government. Google Apps is being used by the Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Services (GDS).

However, the Cabinet Office confirmed that GDS only uses Google Apps and Google Docs at IL0, which it said is relevant to the majority of its work.

If a higher security level is required, staff access products that have been given a relevant higher security level. Google has since said that it is exploring getting accredited to IL2.

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