Friday, 13 July 2018 05:37

Protected cloud: ASD claims same standards apply to all firms Featured


The Australian Signals Directorate says the Australian Cyber Security Centre does not apply different security standards to different cloud service providers.

The agency was responding to queries from iTWire over the exit of a senior female staffer, reportedly over the granting of Protected cloud status to Microsoft, and also its refusal to grant a small Australian company similar status even though the firm appears to have met all the necessary specifications.

A report in said an ASD staffer, Melissa Osborne, had been responsible for the certification of the first four cloud providers to gain Protected status: Dimension Data, Macquarie Telecom, Sliced Tech and Vault Systems.

She was said to have been overseeing Microsoft's application but, when she refused to grant it on security grounds, was removed from her role by ASD director-general Mike Burgess.

In April, Microsoft was announced as having gained Protected cloud status for its Azure and Office 365 services. Questions were raised about the certification after the ASD issued a consumer guide containing a number of fiats about the services.

An ASD spokesperson said it could "confirm the information related to the alleged removal of the individual [Osborne] is incorrect. The ASD will not comment further on the employment status of its personnel".

"The ACSC works collaboratively with cloud service providers to meet prescribed security standards within the Protective Security Policy Framework and the Information Security Manual. Microsoft met the prescribed security standards."

From this financial year, the ACSC has become part of the ASD, as part of the reorganisation of government departments following the creation of the ministry of home affairs.

"The versatile nature of cloud technology and the difference in cloud architecture between cloud service providers requires a flexible approach to meeting the security standards," the spokesperson said.

"The head of the ACSC [Alastair MacGibbon] is the senior responsible officer for all cloud certifications for the government, including responsibility for approvals and denials of cloud certifications.

"The ACSC continues to review its cloud certification program to ensure that it protects the security and integrity of government networks and information, and that it meets the requirements of new and emerging technology."

In a post on her LinkedIn page, Osborne denied that Burgess had been responsible for her exit. "Disappointed to read this article blaming DGASD Mr Mike Burgess for my resignation from Defence," she wrote.

"Mike has been nothing but supportive of my career and has provided me with encouragement and mentorship. I was not consulted by the author of the article, nor was Mike."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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