TSSG Research Cloud Potential for eGovernment

October 22nd, 2010 – A team of researchers in Waterford Institute of Technology’s TSSG (Telecommunications Software and Systems Group) is participating in PASSIVE a two year €3.5m EU research project to investigate the security and data protection issues posed by cloud computing in e-Government.
Cloud computing is a general term to describe services hosted and delivered over the internet. It provides easy and scalable access to IT services and resources. Many global businesses (Google, ebay and Amazon) have switched their operations to cloud infrastructure because of its efficiency and cost-effectiveness; it also enables significant savings on capital investment as they pay only for what they use. Virtualisation complements these costs savings as it allows organisations to consolidate the number of servers they require to run their operations. Costs are also reduced by streamlining support and management functions.
Innovations in these technologies, improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy have accelerated interest in cloud computing, which is cheaper, flexible and easier on energy consumption. With increased public scrutiny and demands for accountability in the wake of the downturn there is growing pressure on government organisations to reduce capital expenditure and consolidate operational costs, a move to cloud computing for e-Government seems compelling.
According to Patrick Phelan, Research Fellow of Communications Infrastructure Management in TSSG, “Shifting to cloud computing offers massive savings for the public purse but there are real concerns regarding data protection, security and regulatory compliance, especially as sensitive citizen data would no longer physically reside in an organisation’s headquarters.
“The PASSIVE project has been designed to investigate data security and protection issues within cloud infrastructure. Working with collaborators, TSSG is looking for ways to mitigate risks so national and local governments, civic authorities and enterprises can comply with EU data and security laws.
“The central idea behind PASSIVE is to allow security threats be easily specified, detected and addressed. We will use a ‘policy–based’ approach whereby administrators set rules that define who has access to what information. PASSIVE will provide separation of data (e.g. policing and judiciary) to reassure people that their personal data, e.g. tax returns, social security details, are securely collected, stored, and managed.
“Once we have created a secure system that enables responsible data management practices, we hope to end stories about missing memory sticks, laptops and other devices containing citizens’ personal information. In essence, PASSIVE’s goal is to provide confidence for eGovernment and EU citizens.
“TSSG’s role is to keep abreast of changes and developments in virtualisation so the project employs state-of-the art technology. We will liaise with contacts in industry to ensure best practices are followed and to help resolve challenges during the project. We will also be involved in designing and building the technology that controls and monitors the use of resources that hold sensitive data,” he said.
During the two years of this project, TSSG will draw on the expertise of leading European partners from the private sector including Thales Research and Technology, Atos Origin, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica and ANECT in tandem with University of the Aegean, Technical University Dresden, and University of Málaga. This project is funded under 7th FWP (seventh framework programme).
TSSG’s participation in PASSIVE builds upon the knowledge and experience its team has gained through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) basic research projects ACMNS and FAME (see notes). Its researchers are Ireland’s leading telecommunications and software engineering experts. TSSG conducts research in telecommunications network management and mobile services and is recognised as one of the top ten European institutes driving the specification of the Future Internet.