MANILA, Phiippines — In spite of the string of hacking attacks leveled against government websites last week, the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) said it is pushing through with its planned government cloud project, slated to be unveiled by July.
The project, dubbed iGovPhil and has received around P500 million in funding, will hope to centralize the deployment of email systems and other applications across government agencies, which could improve service to the public.
According to ICTO Executive Director Louis Casambre, security is an inherent aspect of the government cloud (G-Cloud) initiative, as it would include the service of various security consultants and would seek Tier 1 data center certification as well.
“Be this as it may, given the recent concerns, the DOST-ICTO is re-examining whether even greater attention should be given,” Casambre said, referring to the recent defacements purportedly by Chinese hackers.
The attacks were in response to the ongoing standoff at Scarborough Shoal, a disputed island just West of the country, between China and the Philippines.
The standoff eventually transitioned online, with what appears to be Chinese hackers drawing first blood by defacing the University of the Philippines (UP) website and exclaiming, “Huangyan Island is ours!”
This caused Filipino hackers to retaliate by also defacing several Chinese websites, prompting UP and the ICTO to call for calm and put an end to the hackings before it escalates to a full-scale cyber warfare between the two countries’ netizens.
Casambre said security is an “inherent aspect” of the iGovPhil project, “since a basic service it will provide for other gov’t systems is security itself.”
By having a centralized “cloud” to service the government, agencies would no longer have to be concerned with maintaining and protecting their IT systems as this will be handled by the ICTO already, at its data center which will be located at the National Computer Center.
“We’re almost finished with the bidding documents,” Casambre told InterAKsyon.com. “If I’m not mistaken, it should be operational before the State of the Nation Address of the President in July.”
The cloud computing model has gained traction among enterprises in recent years because it promises lower costs and more efficient systems, but it is only recently that governments have considered running clouds of their own.
He added that they are looking into hosting other government systems through the cloud, such as the Electronic Business Permits and Licensing System (eBPLS), which is traditionally deployed separately by the various local government units.
“Our approach is to offer the application for free to all LGUs. LGUs will however have to contract private sector IT consultants certified for the eBPLS for their particular customizations and commissioning,” the official clarified.
In a recent E-Government Fund report, it was detailed that only 174 of the more than a thousand LGUs across the country has implemented their own eBPLS system, which is meant to speed up business registration and encourage investments in the country’s cities and municipalities.
Just recently, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) decided to sign up with a third-party vendor to deploy its cloud-based email, one of the first government agencies to do so.
Casambre clarified, however, that with their initial moves to build a government cloud, the ICTO’s role remains to be as an advisor as LGUs and line agencies still have autonomy over their respective IT systems.
“As the foundation is built and established, a roadmap for migration and integration will also be developed in close coordination with the rest of government,” he added.