A three-year, $15 million managed security services (MSS) contract under which the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will outsource its security monitoring and management to Verizon marks a significant milestone in the federal government’s significant security gateway reduction program, Verizon senior security manager Jason White has pointed out.
That program, which was implemented in the wake of the Gershon Report’s cost-cutting recommendations, will see the number of secure gateways use by government agencies reduced from 124 to just eight between 2010 and 2014, when the program will complete.
The MSS contract, announced today, will see Verizon assume a range of security-related responsibilities including introduction detection, firewall management, spam filtering, anti-virus protection, virtual private network (VPN) management and DDoS protection.
Those services will be delivered for both the AFP and client agencies including the Australian Crime Commission, CRIMTRAC Agency, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and the Commonwealth Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Domestic support capabilities were an important part of the contract, White told *CSO Australia*. “The data centres are based in Canberra,” he explained, “and it’s important from a data sovereignty perspective for all the staff to be Australian citizens and cleared to see some of the information that’s going to be traversing our network and into the customers’ networks.”
Verizon has a long history providing security services to government agencies, and will fulfil the contract from a local ASIO T4-certified facility from which its secure MSS environment – known internally as CAGE (Certified Australian Gateway Environment) – will be monitored on a 24x7
basis for the AFP and related agencies.
Whereas MSS often revolved around firewall log monitoring in the past, today’s generally elevated threat level has raised the bar for Verizon’s security efforts, which will call on a broad range of skilled staff and technological aides to not only ensure a clean Internet feed but to pick out subtle attacks such as advanced persistent threats (APTs).
That required ongoing efforts to ensure that staff were well apprised of potential threats, and didn’t unwittingly open vulnerabilities by allowing unwitting lapses in security practice. It also requires a more-complex range of technologies and techniques to keep up with the many and varied attacks the AFP and other government organiations face.
Today’s threat surface “is more complex than it was, and we now have a totally different technology stack than we had five years ago when we were offering these services,” White said.
“Since 2008, when Gershon was delivered, we’ve made a quantum leap in our ability to provide services from a smaller footprint to a variety of customers. We’re now able to get economies of scale by driving down the cost of the maintenance, hardware, licensing, and so on. But we can offer a
far more significant, scalable and elastic solution to be able to make moves, adds and changes in the environment as requirements change.”