By Paul Hemsley
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has awarded international carrier and hosting giant Verizon a $15 million deal supply a “dual internet gateway service” that will act has the head contract for online services across six of the Commonwealths most highly sensitive law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Agencies covered in the deal, aside from the AFP are the Australian Crime Commission, CRIMTRAC, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and the Commonwealth Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Verizon says that under the deal it will supply intrusion detection and firewall management, anti-spam and anti-virus management, virtual private network (VPN) management and DOS (Denial of Service) Protection as well as IPv6-capable bandwidth to the AFP and its client agencies.
Although relatively small in value, the contract is significant because it reasserts Verizon’s established credentials as a provider of highly secure services to agencies that represent prime targets for organised crime interests.
Both the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation have repeatedly warned that cyber intrusions and attempts to exfiltrate sensitive data are now a standard modus operandi for hostile entities that can often operate under the cover of relative anonymity.
Part of the Commonwealth’s agenda to help secure systems and save money is to reduce the number of potential weak point by bringing the previous proliferation of internet gateway down to a manageable size.
The federal government’s gateway reduction program, led by the Department of Finance, has mandated that the government will to reduce its internet gateways from 124 to eight over four years from 2010 to 2014 in order to save $25 million.
The AFP’s former chief information officer, assistant commissioner Rudi Lammers congratulated Verizon on winning the tender and expressed that he looks forward to a professional and constructive partnership with the company.
It is not the first deal of its kind between Verizon and the federal government as the company was hired in a five year contract worth $50 million in April 2011 to create a fully managed, dual internet gateway solution and provide professional services support for the Department of Defence.
The recent deal worth $15 million might seem poultry compared to the $50 million deal, but the Department of Defence carries a much larger and more complex network for Verizon to manage and maintain, therefore requiring a heavier set of funds from the federal government’s coffers.
Verizon has also recently demonstrated activity of a conspicuous nature in relation to its dealings with the federal government when it announced in April 2013 that it would be doubling the capacity of its Fyshwick data centre in Canberra.
The site located in one of Canberra’s retail districts was the latest move by the company at the time in its anticipation of the growing trend among federal government departments and agencies of expanding their reliance on cloud-computing models.
Although the AFP’s deal with Verizon has been made to shield the agency’s IT systems from external malicious attacks, it is not likely to quell the problem of digital scams that have troubled the federal police body that have made for some awkward public relations moments.
In October 2012, the AFP was forced to warn the public about a phishing scam by online criminals pilfering the AFP logo in a pop-up window duping unsuspecting web users into parting with their financial details.
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