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January 27, 2009

Public sector risks authentication compliance

Need to meet a 31st March deadline

By Jason Stamper

Cash-strapped local authorities in the UK face a race against time to deploy two-factor authentication, or risk losing online connections to central government departments.

The public bodies need to meet a 31st March deadline to comply with the so-called code of connection (CoCo), before they will be allowed to connect to central government organisations across the Government Connect Secure Extranet.

The GCSx is a secure private WAN which acts as a secure email relay service between connected local authorities, which also enables secure data sharing.

Compliance to the CoCo calls for a number of security control measures, managed security supplier Signify has warned, and one of the key elements is that any users working remotely must be authenticated using dual or two-factor authentication.

With public sector staffs increasingly working remotely from home or in the field, two-factor authentication system such as RSA’s SecurID is viewed as an essential addition to the usual password if access to personal client files is to be fully secure.

An earlier survey suggested that as many as 46% of local authorities were unlikely to have met the November 2008 deadline that assessed their level of preparedness for Code of Connection compliance.

Signify reckons many local authorities are still in the process of putting in place the final improvements to their networks.

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