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Fed mulls classified data certs for MSPs and SaaS

Fed mulls classified data certs for MSPs and SaaS

22 providers have now received certification under the Hosting Certification Framework.

Credit: Dreamstime

Managed services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers may soon be eligible for certifications to handle the federal government’s most sensitive data. 

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is exploring certifications for SaaS players and managed services providers (MSP), allowing them to host all sensitive government data, whole-of-government systems and systems rated to a protected classification level. 

The certifications would fall under the Hosting Certification Framework (HCF), which was launched in 2021 and enables agencies to store their data in an externally hosted environment with a particular provider or providers, knowing they have been certified under the HCF. 

It is compulsory for Australian government agencies looking to store sensitive and/or classified information to use a strategic-level HCF-certified provider, the highest level of assurance. 

Since its launch, 22 providers have received certification under the HCF, with more providers in the pipeline, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Sliced Tech, Vault Cloud and AUCloud.

As well as incorporating new certifications, the DTA also is looking into providing more information for current and potential providers about government requirements and engaging with state and territory governments about the HCF. 

In addition, the DTA said it was looking into arrangements to accelerate the certification process for providers. 

This follows reports of a backlog of data centre and cloud providers still waiting to receive their HCF accreditation. 

In September last year, the DTA forked out $1.76 million to Anchoram Consulting to manage its hosting certification assessments. 

“As digital services continued to exponentially grow, government agencies increasingly moved their expanding data holdings to offsite data centres,” the DTA wrote in a blog post.

“Over the last 10 years, data centre and cloud growth in Australia has accelerated dramatically, with nearly 300 data centres around the country capable of hosting government data today. 

“The whole-of-government Hosting Strategy provides clear guidance to those entrusted with government-held data to ensure the protection of this highly valuable asset and the security of information.” 

As of now, industry sellers and government buyers are encouraged to participate in the DTA’s review of its HCF program on its digital consultation platform. 

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