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back to article HMRC: Moving our data to the cloud will make it MORE secure

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to move data it currently stores in local offices to a new centralised government cloud computing depository in a move it says will save it £1m a year and improve on the security of its IT services. HMRC said it had signed a contract with Skyscape Cloud Services to enable it to store data in the …

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Bronze badge

Secure

Move to Cloud....secure....Public body....protect data......all in one report.....Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

That is all

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Silver badge

Re: Secure

I thought that at first but then re-read the paragraph in context. They say it will make their data more secure - given we're talking about 1) UK Gov. and 2) HMRC, I have no doubt the data would be safer left on a USB stick in your local pub than on HMRC's systems so the cloud is probably an improvement for them.

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It Probably Will

Given the governments track record in securing data, giving it to a third party probably will make it more secure. Especially if that third party refuses to give the government access to the data.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It Probably Will

giving it to a third party probably will make it more secure

.. like CRAPITA?

Methinks not..

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Can't leave "a cloud" on the train...

...like you can with a CDR or USB stick. Maybe thats what they mean...

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Re: Can't leave "a cloud" on the train...

Since a username and password combination does fit on a stick, you most certainly *can* leave an entire cloud on the train.

But actually, since they refuse to discuss how they intend to control access, I don't think they can be using "secure" to mean "secure against intrusion". I'm assuming that they mean "secure against disc failures, accidental deletion or total failure of backup policy".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can't leave "a cloud" on the train...

"But actually, since they refuse to discuss how they intend to control access, I don't think they can be using "secure" to mean "secure against intrusion". I'm assuming that they mean "secure against disc failures, accidental deletion or total failure of backup policy"."

It's certainly not secure against FOI requests for example.

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Single point of failure

It's the only thing being technically involved here. You're simply moving it. So when one office has a problem the other is most likely still capable of working. When your centralized cloud has a problem the whole infrastructure comes to a screeching halt.

And the only reason why some would call this progress is because they're either too stupid to understand what is going on or this decision serves completely different interests.

...as happened numerous of times in the past.

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FAIL

Let's see how fast they can lose data, next

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Hopefully it'll cut down on laptops left in pubs, USB sticks dropped in taxis &c.

It's got "cock-up" written all over it, mind.

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Anonymous Coward

"Hopefully it'll cut down on laptops left in pubs, USB sticks dropped in taxis &c"

I don't see why it would. The people losing data in pubs and on trains will still "require" personal copies of the data to make them feel important.

All that's changed is some techy has pulled that data from a database server in "the cloud" instead of a local database server.

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"Skyscape is the service provider of choice for Assured Cloud Services to the UK Public Sector"

That's all right then.

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Re: "Skyscape is the service provider of choice for Assured Cloud Services to the UK Public Sector"

Actually, the following from their site is a little bit more encouraging:

"A significant competitive differentiator is our focus on the integrity of our client’s data, including protection from potential access by overseas legislation including the US Patriot Act."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Skyscape is the service provider of choice for Assured Cloud Services to the UK Public Sector"

Skyscape apparently have their servers in the UK. This is at least an improvement on the hosting arrangements for a lot of UK government websites, many of whom are currently hosted abroad and whose contents are open to abuse by law enforcement agencies in those countries.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Skyscape is the service provider of choice for Assured Cloud Services to the UK Public Sector"

"Skyscape apparently have their servers in the UK"

That's actually not enough - if the company itself is US; the HQ may still be compelled under the US PATRIOT Act. A bit like MessageLabs, the company that sees every single email in and out of the GSI gateway..

Ah, sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned that. But any "dig mx" will show you this, so it's publicly documented anyway..

On the bright side, UK intercept will now have a single point of access instead of an inconvenient search for the service provider. RIPA abuse, here we come..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Skyscape is the service provider of choice for Assured Cloud Services to the UK Public Sector"

Skyscape is apparently a UK company registered and headquartered in the UK (it's head office is in Farnborough). This is in stark contrast to some interlopers registered in Delaware that I could mention that have tried to pass themselves off as British companies in the past.

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FAIL

What savings !

1 mill a year, thats about 30p per tax payer - phenomenal, and thats what they claim if everything goes swimmingly. It will never be more and most likely be more costs. Things like downtime on the last day because of overload that wasn't properly described etc

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What savings !

Pedantically, i think you will find that it's closer to 3p per tax payer, as although the majority of people in the country are either kids/scroungers/Monaco dwelling millionaires, that still leaves about 30 million of us dumb hicks paying tax on income. Still don't complain 3 p is 3 p. 100 more deals like that and you could buy a half pint.

Unfortunately the £1 million saving probably comes through making a load of PFYs redundant, but don't worry, because their dole comes from someone else's' budget.

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Childcatcher

Re: What savings !

Knowing how these things go: that saving of £1m could easily turn nto an expenditure of £50m. This is the civil service we are talking about. Estimates and cost were never a strong point.

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Anonymous Coward

Having worked in the civil service

Oh joy, another "money saving" initiative from the Government, while it's great on paper and looks good to say that they're using the magical cloud the reality is most of the Civil Service is horrifically out of date, in terms of their hardware, software, and technical know how.

This will just cause more problems for end users, more questions, and statements like "but before I could just connect to the z drive for that data!"

Still, if it works its a small step in the right direction, where I worked, every area (team) had a full scale server that sat idle most of the day, a department of around 23~ people had 10 full servers.

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What could possibly go wrong...

Its not like HMRC already have previous for shonky data handling practices is it.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Economical with the actualite

"The Skyscape contract is a major step for HMRC in moving away from traditional ways of working with large service providers. And it’s a great example of how we’re exploring smarter, more innovative solutions that make life simpler for us and help us provide a better deal for our customers."

size matters

http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/09/government-digital-service-g-cloud-log.html

they're just lying

http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/09/whitehall-apology-they-havent-gone-mad.html

Whitehall SNAFU

http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/09/g-cloud-gds-hmrc-and-skyscape-company.html

five questions

http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/09/five-questions-for-g-cloud-team.html

Patriot Act

http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/09/g-cloud-gds-hmrc-skyscape-and-usa.html

penultimately

http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/10/skyscape-whitehall-have-no-excuse.html

and finally, in unrelated news on government contracting, was Branson right?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/9583316/Cancelled-FirstGroup-West-Coast-contract-will-cost-40m.html

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Re: Economical with the actualite

I don't know if my brain hasn't survived lunch, but I saw no reference to the Patriot Act in the given link except a general cloud quote from a microsoft bod. A lot of personal attacks on the company concerned, but little else.

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HMRC and increased data security don't belong in the same paragraph let alone the same document.

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Headmaster

That's a though provoking scope issue. It's generally difficult to put two things in the same paragraph whilst not having them in the same document ;)

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Gold badge
Headmaster

IFRAME is your friend.

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Anonymous Coward

"IFRAME is your friend."

I'm not sure the W3C validator would agree with you (although I haven't tried.) Is <p><iframe /></p> legal?

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Anonymous Coward

Typical government / civil service decision...

Jumping on a bandwagon because someone told them "It's the future". No real thought into how to actually implement the technology. Let alone why to implement it. The data will still get downloaded to a PC, saved as a spreadsheet and left in a taxi, on a train or on a USB stick dropped in a pub carpark. It's the midset of the people using the data that has to change, not the technology.

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