The admission by the head of the SIS Warren Tucker about ten days ago that NZ Government computer systems had been hacked left a number of questions up in the air.
Apart from “was it China, as he may have (kind of) implied?” and “what has the Government said to them in response?”, there is another one concerning the Greens: Why are Parliamentary Services and Ministerial Services so committed to Microsoft, especially the combination of Windows and Internet Explorer?
The pairing of Windows and IE is notoriously prone to security breaches and a number of software products in the open source catalogue have been pretty well demonstrated to be more secure.
Yet my battles with Parliamentary Service just to be allowed (!!) to install Mozilla Firefox on my parliamentary desktop has demonstrated the active hostility towards open source solutions in the parliamentary environment. Despite the fact that IE kept crashing (along with my computer), was totally infested (and apparently irreparably so), it took a great deal of arguing and finally rank pulling further up the hierarchy to get acceptance that I could install Firefox (things installed without authority simply get removed by nameless ones in my experience). Even that was with a promise that I would get no support if I had any problems.
Well the recent attacks should have sharpened the minds of those responsible for these kinds of decisions. I have written to the Speaker (who is in charge of Parliamentary Services) and the Prime Minister (in charge of Ministerial Services) to ask them to have a look at the security benefits of running OS on parliament and government computers – even if that is just a few applications like Mozilla. That’s without even mentioning the cost benefits.
Worth noting that Ministerial Services is still running Windows 2000 and is about due for a change. A good time to try something new, methinks.
I’ll keep ya posted how we get on!