MSD opens first public computer kiosk of post-Ng era

Keith Ng

The Ministry of Social Development has opened its first public computer kiosk since a security hole was highlighted by blogger Keith Ng in October last year.

A spokesman told NBR ONLINE the kiosk is connected to the internet but completely separate from the Ministry's network.

The location of the reopened kiosk is symbolic: the Willis St Winz office where an open link to the MSD's main network allowed Mr Ng to access and/or copy thousands of sensitive files. The blogger and visual data specialist turned the files over to the Privacy Commissioner and alerted MSD to the security hole, leading to a wide-ranging, damning review of the Ministry's security practices and culture.

Subject to this being successful, the kiosks will be progressively rolled out in other sites nationwide from next week.

The MSD has 780 kiosks. The spokesman told NBR that assuming the trial went well, all would reopened to the public by the end of net month.

Telecom's Gen-i services division developed and tested the new kiosks.

Mr Ng tells NBR Online he has no plans to probe the security of the new kiosk.

"All they needed to do the first time around was follow the recommendation of their penetration testing report [carried out by Dimension Data, then ignored]. I'm pretty sure they have this time."

"While no IT solution has zero risk, we've taken every possible step to ensure they are as secure as possible, Work and Income deputy chief executive Debbie Powersays.

"We've struck a balance between providing a tool for our clients to access our online services while protecting client information.''

People can use the kiosks to do a range of functions like apply for financial assistance, log onto their My Account or My Study Link account and search for jobs online.

If a person's CV is saved in their Trade Me Jobs or Seek account, they can also apply for jobs on these websites through the kiosks.

``We will continue to increase functionality in the future when we can be confident that we can do so safely,'' says Ms Power.

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2 Comments & Questions

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"Mr Ng tells NBR Online he has no plans to probe the security of the new kiosk"

Suspicious now. A real journo would be back there. Did he moonlight as a contractor? Inquiry should be called for.

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Why didn't they just outsource the whole lot? Government departments are notoriously bad at IT systems. An inquiry is needed.

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