Huddle To Handle Restricted Government Documents

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Huddle’s collaboration application has been accredited by the government to handle restricted access data

Huddle claims that its cloud collaboration and content management solution is the first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system to be cleared to handle restricted government information.

It is the first application to be launched on the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices’ Government Secure Application Environment (GSAE) cloud infrastructure that allows access to and distribution of Impact Level 3 (restricted) content.

The browser-based application will allow secure collaboration on sensitive and lengthy policy documents. This is far more efficient than email, which inter-departmental communications have so far relied upon.

Security issues and Wikileaks

Government data must be hosted in the UK and on government servers within the  Government Secure Intranet (GSI) but security is a joint Huddle and government effort, according to Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell.

“Apart from GCHQ they’re probably the most secure IT organisation in the government, because they are responsible for diplomatic information,” said Alastair Mitchell, Huddle CEO, speaking to eWEEK Europe UK (pictured). “We had to prove Huddle IL3 is a completely bounded and secure system and no information can be leaked onto the internet.”

Huddle IL3 will potentially handle the UK’s equivalent to the US diplomatic cables leaked by WikilLeaks last year.

Mitchell says that although the source of the WikiLeaks leak appears to be physical theft, Huddle’s audit trails provide the UK government with added protection.

“Human intervention is the biggest security risk there is,” he said. “With Huddle, users know exactly what’s happening with that content. They know exactly who’s looking at it, they can control who can see it, read it, write it or download it.

“If a user touches it, you can know exactly where and when they looked at it and what they did. It adds a very high level of security which is why it’s so interesting to government. The US government and security services are very interested.”

Huddle is also working with GCHQ, the government’s ultra-secret eavesdropping agency, on securing mobile devices to use Huddle IL3 by early next year.

“That really will be transformational. Secure access like that when you’re out and about is unheard of,” said Mitchell. “Smartphones, tablets, are very hard to lock down. They store a lot of info in their cache and so on.”

Government cuts

The government’s GSAE platform was created by FCO Services specifically for hosting sensitive government material.

It aims to support cloud-based working and help departments achieve 25 percent efficiency savings as per the 2010 Corporate Spending Review.

“This is a very valuable deal for everyone involved. The biggest thing about Huddle is the productivity and efficiency gains it give you,”said Mitchell.

“The UK government is very much moving toward the cloud for better productivity, more efficiency and significantly lower total cost of ownership.”

Huddle IL3 will go live on the FCO Services’ Government Secure Application Environment cloud infrastructure in Q4 this year.

The initial roll out of Huddle IL3 is within the FCO but the potential for cross-firewall collaboration between government departments means Huddle is hopeful for near 100 percent adoption across the government.

Mitchell said the total cost of ownership with Huddle is £10 per user per month, compared to £80 for Microsoft SharePoint.

Huddle and the government believe together they can save hundreds of millions of pounds over the next five years.

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