Bureau of Statistics seeks secure email

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) wants to harden its Lotus Domino environment  so it can provide “secure transmission of electronic messages and attachments (email) which contain sensitive data and/ or information, between the ABS and external recipients.” Might this year’s census be the reason for the purchase?

There’s an old saying that there are lies, dammed lies and statistics.

Some of those lies or statistics will soon also be very secure, as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has issued a tender for products to help it provide “secure transmission of electronic messages and attachments (email) which contain sensitive data and/ or information, between the ABS and external recipients.”

The tender outlines the following requirements:

2.1          Any outgoing sensitive data (both the body text and any attachments) will be delivered securely to authenticated recipients with suitable authentication. Any incoming data (both the body text and any attachments) shall be delivered securely.

2.2          The solution will interface with existing ABS systems and email infrastructure (which may include, but are not limited to, Lotus Notes/Domino applications, Content Inspection proxies, AV scanners, Firewalls  and Oracle databases), to scan for outgoing sensitive data. Additionally the system will need to integrate with the Lotus Notes address book.

2.3          The solution shall be hosted by the ABS.

2.4          The solution shall comply with Australian Government policy on the use and configuration of encryption (http://www.dsd.gov.au/infosec/ism/index.htm) suitable up to and including PROTECTED classified information, and AGIMO’s Email Protective Marking Standard.

2.5          The solution shall not have any impact on ABS’ interaction and/or use of the Fedlink network.

The reason for the tender is not provided, but the timeframes involved are tight enough – bids are due by March 28th 2011 – that it is possible the new system will be used to compile Australia’s 2011 census. The census is comfortably the ABS’ most visible activity to the general public, and involves numerous temporary data collectors. The next census will take place on August 16th, 2011, which seems time enough for an email security system to be in place.

The ABS has been a known user of Domino and its predecessors since the 1996 census – your correspondent wrote about it for the late, lamented, PC Week at the time.

The 2011 census will also offer online completion of the census forms.

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