PSN Assurance and Compliance

Background to where we are today

The journey so far for the PSN (Public Services Network), has been a long one. The origins of the PSN go back to the Government Secure Intranet (GSI), which was in place for over ten years.[1]  Local Government wasn't connected to the GSI, with the exception of remote access to specific applications such as DWPs CIS system for Housing Benefits, which was accessed through a Remote Access Terminal (RAT), that had a direct leased line to the system. Clearly whilst that worked and allowed lookups to housing benefits records, there was little integration. Bulk file transfers to update local systems was via ftp services.  This situation, did not allow for any secure email and all interaction with central government, was fragmented.

The next step forward was the creation of the GCsX (Government Connect secure eXtranet), this network was for English authorities, with the GSX for Scottish authorities and the PSBA network carrying GCsX traffic for Wales. Between 2009-2012 there was a lot of activity to get local authorities connected and introduce the compliance regime, which involved a Code of Connection (CoCo), which in turn has Information Assurance requirements forming annex B of the Code of Connection. This CoCo was based on the GSI code of Connection. 

 

The next stage was the migration to PSN, The GSI was a single supplier network provided by Cable & Wireless, which was brought out by Vodafone. The PSN on the other hand has a number of suppliers who provide the top level PSN connectivity, these are Direct Network Service Providers (DNSPs). These DNSPS are all interconnected (meshed) to cross connect to a virtual hub called the Government Conveyancing Network (GCN). You cannot connect to the GCN, it provides a level of resilience to PSN connections. 

As the GSI contracts were coming to an end and the Government Connect Programme was a transitional vehicle, it was necessary to harmonise the connectivity between the legacy GSI and the GCsX frameworks this led to the GCF (Government Convergence Framework). All of these programmes and frameworks have led to the PSN we have today. The PSN is a multi provider, standards driven market place, providing secure connectivity and secure messaging (e-mail, telephony and video conferencing).

The PSN was a transitional programme to create the new network, its commercial, operational and standards. In April 2014, the PSN programme was moved to the Government Digital Service (GDS) in Cabinet Office and became one of the Common Technology Services, along with other services like the GOV.UK web site. At that time, the PSN Prgramme was closed and the PSN became an operational service. 

It has been quite a journey taking five years from inception to integration. The work continues in a number of areas including compliance, integration with health and policing. The key phrase is that of a journey. 

To support on-going advice and collaboration, the Socitm PSN Solution Advisory Group service has been set up. This facilitated knowledge hub space will share good practice, facilitate debate and share good practice. Why not join and participate?

 

 

 

 

References:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Secure_Intranet

 

 

Security level: Public

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