Report highlights risks to e-government

The Security Framework v2.0 public consultation document published by the e-envoy shows the scale of threats to the e-government infrastructure.

The framework is aimed at civil servants ordering, and companies building, systems for government. It provides a list of the potential threats to government systems, splitting them into internal and external categories.

Organised crime may see rich pickings in defrauding e-government systems. ‘Some IT related fraud is already known to have taken place,’ the document claims.

It warns that at times of ‘heightened international tension’ foreign agents may try to obtain information or disrupt the workings of government. And it says that terrorists may try to use government systems as a source of targeting information on individuals.

‘In future, there may be a threat of electronic attack designed to disrupt or bring down e-government services,’ it warns.

Hostile individuals are another potential threat, and the government may not be able to punish them. “They may reside outside the government jurisdiction and not be subject to sanction or cessation orders,” the report admits.

The e-envoy also warns that commercial organisations may try to hack government sites to seek information on competitors.

Internal threats include legitimate users who may seek to misuse e-government systems, and may have access to significant technical resources and skills to subvert systems “frequently for financial gain”.

It also mentions accidental damage by users. “Such individuals are not generally motivated to undermine the e-government service provision but may nevertheless cause significant disruption,” it says.

Hacking, viruses and denial of service attacks are seen as the main risks, although the use of inside knowledge and impersonation is also an issue.

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