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Securing data in the public sector

26th January 2016 · Our Thoughts

As the push continues to make the public sector more streamline and efficient, the impetus for local authorities, blue light services and government departments to move to the cloud shows no sign of letting-up.

One of the key pathways to help this transformation is the idea of shared services. Many councils are merging their IT services or partnering with neighbouring authorities to help reduce costs and promote best practice. This collaboration can be enabled across the public sector by accessing cloud services in a secure environment. Hence the creation of the Public Services Network or PSN.

What is the Public Services Network (PSN)?

As the government explains it, the PSN is in essence a ‘walled garden’ – a controlled environment where organisations in the public sector who are PSN-connected can access Internet content and shared services. This is because the security of any one user connected to the PSN can affect that of the other users.

PSN certification gives those connected to the network:

  • Confidence about using services over the network
  • Assurance that their data is protected according to the supplier’s commitments
  • Expectation that any issues will be dealt with quickly

PSN compliance means that the supplier has demonstrated to that they have a sufficiently rigorous approach to security arrangements, policies and controls for handling public sector information rated at OFFICIAL.

What are the benefits of PSN?

The Public Services Network was created as part of the drive by government to address efficiency, cost and inflexibility within the public sector. PSN compliance brings with it a single, standardised and secure approach to carrying and sharing data across the public sector with numerous benefits:

  • Secure connection through which to access and share services
  • Secure collaborative working through a ‘walled garden’ network
  • Cost savings through efficient procurement via accredited suppliers
  • Assurance around the supplier’s approach to security and data protection

What is the future for PSN?

In his first article since becoming Chief Technology Officer for the Public Services Network, James Duncan described it as the government’s high-performance network. He spoke of his plans to widen the understanding of PSN and allow it to “continue to deliver opportunities for data sharing across the public sector.”

Although several hundred public sector bodies are already connected to the PSN, in general there is still a nervousness around the benefits that cloud services can bring and how it will affect the security of the services provided to and data collected from citizens. iomart’s own survey showed there is much to do to help local government bodies in particular along the way.

How can cloud suppliers help?

As with any big change it is often down to the people and organisations you choose to help you make those changes that can make the difference between success and failure.

As one of the UK’s leading cloud service provides iomart has worked hard to ensure we have the right certifications and accreditations to give organisations working across the public sector peace of mind around data sovereignty and security when using our infrastructure and cloud services.

With PSN Connection and Service Compliance iomart’s infrastructure, cloud and backup services can connect to the Public Services Network. iomart is one of a handful of providers who have gained PSN certification.

To find out more about how we deliver to the public sector click here

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