The Federal Government Fedlink program has passed its final hurdle following a favourable evaluation of the Cisco equipment used in the construction of the Virtual Private Network (VPN).
The Fedlink network, constructed and operated by security service provider, 90East, with the financial backing of the Government, is now ready for the 120 Commonwealth agencies to be brought online.
Its goal is to enable government departments to communicate more efficiently using a distributed communications model, based on the IP Security (IPSec) encryption standard.
Completed last year, 90East has been awaiting final approval on the Cisco networking equipment and software by a formal evaluation process called Common Criteria. It tests the confidentiality, authenticity and integrity of data traveling between multiple locations.
“The Cisco evaluation gives longevity to the project,” said Andrew Bewick, federal manager of 90East. “It had to pass evaluation before being accepted by the Commonwealth Government for use by departments.”
Fedlink will be a lucrative exercise for 90East providing there is full uptake. The service provider collects a monthly fee of “less than $1,000” from each agency using the VPN.
“$1,000 a month is very cheap considering that you’re getting a secure network with all the Commonwealth agencies on it,”Bewick said. “There are no people concerns. No configuration issues. It just buttons on to what they’ve already got.
“It’s cheap mainly because it’s owned by government and they screw the hell out of us. But the configuration is designed to be very efficient because the intention is for broad uptake.”
After the 120 Federal agencies are online, Bewick has his sights set on the 500-odd state government departments. He then plans to pitch the service to private agencies dealing with government regularly. At the end of the process he envisages having two to three thousand agencies on board.
“The growth is an exponential thing. It started slowly but the more departments that come on board, the more that follow,” he said.
The Australian Tax Office is a perfect case in point having opened doors to the state revenue services.
“The same situation exists with State Health departments and a myriad of other agencies,” Bewick said. “They deal with the Commonwealth on a daily basis so it makes sense for them to use a secure network. Once the Commonwealth departments come online there are natural moves in the State.”