A Unisys Security Index report shows New Zealanders have less faith in security when organisations store data in the country than when they store it overseas.

Unisys says 11 percent of New Zealanders are more concerned about accidental data breaches when companies store data in the country. This compares with only five percent who worry about breaches when the data is stored overseas.

You can read the number as a no confidence vote in local companies and government departments. It is also bad news for local cloud vendors.

John Kendall, security program director for Unisys Asia-Pacific, says to a degree the lack of faith in local data security is because of many accidental breaches in New Zealand including two at the Earthquake Commission.

Data security relies on perception

Perception is important. Few people know where organisations store their data. While most New Zealand government organisations do store data in the country, there’s nothing to say Earthquake Commission data would not have leaked if the information was hosted on an Amazon server in the USA.

And that means there’s a case for companies to communicate more about their data security policies and practices.

Kendall says that’s difficult: “The public wants to know it is protected, but how much should an organisation talk about this in public?” There’s a danger that saying too much will aid criminals and others wanting to get at private data.

On the other hand he says some organisations are now using their measures to protect user data as a selling point. He says disclosing this information is a way of building confidence.

The flip side is that governments want to do more online — it’s cheaper. And yet they often find online services don’t get the uptake they expect with many users preferring to interaction in manual ways due to what he calls ‘lingering concerns’.

 

The Commerce Commission released its first estimate of the amount carriers will each pay for their share of the 2012-13 Telecommunications Development Levy. The $50 million levy is used to pay for public good telecommunications projects including services for the deaf, 111 emergency services and rural broadband.

Carriers earning more than $10 million a year from operating public telecommunications networks contribute roughly 1 percent of revenue towards the levy. In the past Telecom NZ and Vodafone have paid most. More recently Chorus has been added to the list. Between them, the big three pay 90 percent of the total with the rest coming from another 19 companies.

The Commerce Commission publishes what it calls a draft liability allocation determination. When this is published there’s usually some haggling over details in a submissions process. That’s happening now and a  final decision is expected on December 20.

  • Chorus chairwoman Sue Sheldon used the annual meeting in Wellington to criticise the Commerce Commission cutting copper access prices saying it undermines the government-sponsored UFB project. She says: “Investors now attach a regulatory risk premium to Chorus and this has implications for our cost of capital”. She says this means investors now see New Zealand telecommunications as un-investable.
  • Unisys New Zealand renewed a six-year mainframe service contract with Inland Revenue. Neither party is saying how much the deal is worth, but the IRD says it will not need any new money from the government. IRD also said any decision about replacing the mainframe will be taken as part of its transformation programme. Last year the IRD warned that ageing technology put its ability to collect tax at risk. It said it would need to spend as much as $1.5 billion over 10 years on a replacement.
  • Te Miro in the Waikato is now connected to the government’s rural broadband network. Vodafone says it switched on its newly built 25m lattice tower giving coverage to 400 households. Vodafone says the last tower planned for Waipa District under the RBI, Maihiihi, will provide mobile coverage and wireless broadband for an extra 110 homes and businesses.  Vodafone has also upgraded all six of its existing sites around Waipa District, including Karapiro, Cambridge, Kihikihi, Te Awamutu, Mystery Creek and Lake Karapiro.
  • BusinessDesk reports TradeMe told shareholders at its AGM it is set to 40 new tech workers to work on-site upgrades. TradeMe told shareholders to expect subdued growth in the coming year.
  • Cloud specialist GreenButton has a new partnership with Verbatim Reporting which it says will help courts, law enforcement agencies and law firms index audio and video of proceedings.
  • Not keying bank transaction data into accounts systems thanks to automatic bank feeds is worth 10 hours a month or an average of $458 dollars per company says MYOB.

Mainframe maker Unisys has woven a new enterprise computing system it describes as a “fabric-based architecture”.

Branded as Forward, Unisys’ new architecture stitches together teams of Intel Xeon processors with a fast backplane and embroidered with the company’s own s-Par advanced secure partitioning.

Forward aims to help large businesses and government departments move from proprietary Unix systems.

Like a mainframe, not a mainframe

Australia-based Forward program manager Vic Herring says the new architecture is designed to cut through the problems organisations face when moving to new architectures. He says Forward brings mainframe levels of security and availability.

In other words Forward plays to Unisys’ strengths in building mission critical systems for organisations with big workloads. It ticks all the important 2013 enterprise computing boxes: Forward can be used for cloud computing, big data and run large ERP applications like SAP.

Virtual and then some

Herring says Forward is way ahead of other virtualisation systems. Instead of conventional virtual machines Forward provides a series of secure partitions tightly coupled to the Xeon processors. Each partition handles a specific workload and has its own dedicated resources: processor or processors, memory and input-output channels.

He says these resources don’t bounce up and down when other jobs stretch resources on other partitions – the way things can work with conventional virtual machines. He didn’t quite say that. Herring talked about resource contention and latency.

One of the features of Unisys’ fabric computing approach is that communications between each secure partition takes place at the same speed as memory transfers. Data doesn’t have to queue to get aboard the bus.

Herring says Forward uses software driven architecture. This means many things that would normally be done by hardware are software controlled. So, connecting two devices within the fabric no longer requires Ethernet cable but is done with a software command. Even devices like routers in effect become software routines. In this respect the technology resembles software defined networks.

Unisys does stealth security

Security is important to Unisys customers who often deal with large volumes of sensitive data. Each of the Forward partitions is secure in the sense that each partition is fully containerised. So if a job in one partition falls over, it doesn’t affect other partitions.

The new system also can be used with Unisys Stealth security software – which the company also sells as a standalone offering. Stealth uses cloaking, which means only authorised systems know a protected system is on the network. It also has encryption. In effect systems protected with Stealth are invisible.

Not cheap, but cheaper

Herring is frank about his company’s reputation. He says: “I know in the past Unisys hasn’t been the cheapest on the market”.

While it still isn’t playing in the bargain basement, he says Forward uses off-the-shelf components to deliver the enterprise computing power at the fraction of the cost of alternatives. Computer makers often throw numbers around, but Herring’s are impressive. He says Forward cuts capital costs by 50 percent or better and reduces the total cost of ownership by 40 percent.