#WTFMSD: end of innovation

The MSD security breach will be the end of civil service innovation for two years.

The saddest outcome of the security flaw in the public kiosks at WINZ is that government technology adoption will shut down for two years. That in turn will threaten National’s much vaunted adoption of technology to improve civil service efficiency and front line services for citizens.

No one in the civil service will want to risk an “MSD” by adopting public facing technology. And no Minister will approve such technology for at least the rest of this Government term.

The normal answer would be to make sure security is tight. The normal answer would be that the MSD situation shows what happens when you DON’T have security. But that’s not how the civil service, and especially Governments, think. The risk, they will say, is too high.

This Government has been battered this year by controversies. One of them has already included privacy breaches (ACC). The word will be out among Cabinet: make sure your Ministries have their systems locked down tight. That will be followed closely by the sentiment that no new technology tricks should be tried until after the next election.

That poses a major issue for every government technology project currently underway. It also directly threatens the all-of-Government procurement system for IT work, which is in tender at the moment.

The first casualty will be the adoption of cloud-based services by the public service. This was announced last month. It’s now likely to go onto the slow burner.

I doubt this result would be desired by anyone in the technology sector, let alone the much respected Keith Ng, who uncovered the WINZ kiosk flaw. It makes me wonder whether exposing the flaw to the humiliation of public exposure, was really worth it. 

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