DTA does not say if companies certified as cloud hosts have compliance issues
The Digital Transformation Agency, now responsible for certifying cloud companies that can host government data, doesn’t seem willing to make it clear whether any of the four companies ticked on October 7 had outstanding compliance issues.
Of the four companies – Amazon Web Services, Sliced Tech, Vault cloud and AUCloud – only Vault has been clear on compliance issues, and this directly to iTWire. The DTA said nothing at the time. AWS, AUCloud and Sliced Tech have all been solicited by iTWire if they have had compliance issues, but all were silent.
Given that, iTWire sent the following request to the DTA on Wednesday:
“On October 7, four companies were certified for government data hosting: AWS, Sliced Tech, Vault Cloud and AUCloud.
“However, apart from Vault – which has posted details of its non-compliance issues to iTWire – none of the others spoke of non-compliance. ITWire contacted both Sliced Tech and AUCloud but had no response.
“AWS was questioned by email but did not respond.
“Which begs the question: none of these three had any outstanding issues?”
Also, as I pointed out, the fact that AWS is using a data center owned by a Chinese entity does not appear to have sounded the alarm at DTA – despite the government’s warnings about China.
“As you are no doubt aware, the government has canceled a Belt and Road Initiative agreement signed between China and Victoria. Canberra is also studying the lease of Darwin port by a Chinese company and there is talk of ‘it be abandoned.
“Given this background, hasn’t the fact that the Global Switch data center used by AWS was controlled by China triggered red flags? “
The DTA responded on Thursday: “Certification under the hosting certification framework provides assurance that hosting providers meet defined security and risk management standards.
“This includes putting in place mitigation measures that support the outcomes outlined in the whole-of-government accommodation strategy and the requirements outlined in the accommodation certification framework.
“Suppliers who have been assessed as eligible and qualified for certification are required to enter into binding contractual commitments with the Australian government that give effect to the certification framework. “
What this exactly means is difficult to analyze. We can only deduce one thing: like the government, the DTA prefers to obscure and avoid giving straight answers.
There has been a lot of chatter from various interested parties regarding the alleged threat from China. Still, US company AWS, which has ties to a Chinese-owned data center, has been awarded the green flag to host government data.
Last year, when AWS was awarded the contract to host the government’s COVIDSafe app, a similar issue – that of using a data center wholly owned by a Chinese company – was raised. raised, with Labor MP Ed Husic addressing the issue during the ABC News afternoon briefing. The center in question is Global Switch whose parent company is Aldersgate Investments which is now controlled by a Chinese entity.
Aldersgate has two data centers at Ultimo where it stores classified Australian government material, including sensitive defense and intelligence files. Both of these data centers have secure gateways certified by ASD and can be used for secure access by government offices.
But ASD is no longer in the picture in terms of certification, having bowed out in March 2020. The DTA and the Australian Cyber Security Agency are now both bodies involved in certification.
The problems with Global Switch date back to 2016, when Aldersgate sold a 49% stake to Chinese company Elegant Jubilee.
Aldersgate investors were said to have been brought together by Li Qiang, owner of Daily Tech, one of China’s leading data center companies. The main investor was Jiangsu Sha Steel Group, China’s largest private steel company. Elegant Jubilee acquired full ownership of Global Switch in August 2019.
But who cares ? Certainly not well-paid government bureaucrats who will talk about “Communist China” until they have a blue face. [The irony that China has been a communist nation from the time it came into being escapes these worthies. Do we talk about the “capitalist USA” or “socialist
The DTA will only be stimulated to do something when the problem turns into a problem that costs the government votes. Until then, speaking is good, action is a dangerous path.
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