Friday, March 25, 2011

Australian Government bans and slams Hotmail as being too insecure

There can be little doubt that cloud-based services will feature strongly in the future of the Internet.

Even if you prefer to do your word processing on a stand-alone PC and opt to have the family snapshots stored safely on your own DVDs or USB drives, there are some services that really are just better served from a cloud.

Email for instance.

In fact, cloud-based webmail services are probably the oldest form of cloud computing and ever since Hotmail became "flavour of the month", almost everyone has at least one email address which is accessed through a cloud-based provider.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Australian Government doesn't think that such webmail services are secure enough and it's banned access to a raft of different ones, including GMail and Hotmail.

No, they haven't banned all Australians from accessing them (yet), they've simply told parliamentary workers that they are no longer to use these services for security reasons.

To back up the directive, the parliamentary firewalls will be configured to block all access from government PCs -- all in the name of security.

Microsoft has responded by claiming that HotMail is not insecure at all.

Their web-based email service conforms, they say, "ISO 27001 and SAS 70" standards, which mandate a degree of management and security that provide more than adequate levels of protection.

Alas, the Australian Auditor General does not agree and has declared that "agencies should not allow personnel to send and receive emails on agency ICT systems using public web-based email services".

The ban and blocking comes into effect as of July 1st.

Let's hope their own email systems are secure so as to avoid being left with a little egg on face.

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