MANILA, Philippines — The launch of the government’s own cloud platform will not only realize cost savings and efficiencies across all agencies but will also shield government websites from notorious cyber attacks, an official from the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) said recently.
By hosting majority of government websites under a centralized server, iGovPhil Project Director Denis Villorente said they will be able to implement stricter security measures and monitor government websites that are under attack, effectively thwarting hackers from penetrating deep into government systems.
“Since the platform is within our control, we can better configure the systems, secure them, and monitor the activities as well,” Villorente told InterAksyon.com at the sidelines of the launch of initial iGovPhil apps during the National ICT month.
iGovPhil is a platform put up by the government to centralize all IT systems from various agencies under one roof, enabling efficiencies such as shared services, a common payment gateway system, and a national records management system, among many others. (http://www.interaksyon.com/infotech/govt-unveils-platform-for-online-services-inter-agency-data-sharing)
In recent months, government websites have come under attack both from local hacktivist groups and those outside the Philippines protesting latest moves by the government. Most recently, a number of .gov.ph domains came under distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks form Taiwanese Internet users decrying the death of a fisherman just off the islands of Batanes. (http://www.interaksyon.com/infotech/taiwanese-hackers-hijack-government-sites-leak-confidential-data)
Among the initiatives being pushed by iGovPhil is the establishment of a common look and feel for all government websites, which will standardize not only the template but the backend systems as well, Villorente said.
“We also intend to control the modules that they install on their content management systems, because sometimes that becomes the point of entry of hackers,” he explained, adding that the new iGovPhil facilities and services will allow for “better monitoring” of government systems that host agency websites.
Villorente said the government will soon be issuing an executive order to compel all national agencies to host their respective websites under iGovPhil servers, which prevents them from getting third-party services that expose them more to such security risks.
To hit the ground running on the government cloud, the ICTO launched five applications and services that aim to speed up and secure online government transactions, aside from encouraging a standard look for all government websites, all under the iGovPhil project launched last year.
Chief of all the apps launched is GovCloud, which creates the foundation for cloud computing in government. Cloud computing is a relatively new way of deploying technology systems that centralizes all hardware and infrastructure systems in a single data center, allowing for faster setup times and better utilization of servers.
Villorente said the introduction of GovCloud will enable the faster delivery of government services as the systems running them will now be standardized and located in a central server.
“These applications and systems all contribute to more efficient government operations that redound to the benefit of the citizens through faster delivery of goods and services,” he stressed.
Other apps launched by the government include the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), government-wide email system (GovMail), Agency Records Inventory System (AgRIS), and Government Website Template.
The PKI will provide added security to government online transactions and communications with the use of dual keys for sealing and opening documents online and the use of digital certificates for authentication and verification. The technology is useful not only within the government but also in transactions with the public like delivery of services and online payment, ICTO said.
Meanwhile, AgRIS is an inventory of files, documents and records kept by each government agency in order to keep track and provide a list of all these records and store them in a government data center in preparation for the eventual implementation of the National Archives and Records Management (NARM) program.
The NARM aims to optimize the use of government resources by integrating existing assets and improve public service by speeding up document research, access and processing.