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Security agencies GCSB and SIS merge tech directorates

Large, complex multi-year projects are boosting the security of government communications
Andrew Hampton - director general, GCSB

Andrew Hampton - director general, GCSB

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and Security Intelligence Service (SIS) have merged their technology directorates in preparation for the roll-out of a New Zealand Top Secret Network (NZTSN).

A 2017 review recommended the change to support two main objectives - the need to share resources and reduce duplication between the SIS and the GCSB and to ensure the agencies were prepared for sector-wide implementation of the NZTSN.

The GCSB's annual report explained that in 2018, the agency made significant progress on two large, multi-year  technology projects: the Cryptographic Products Management Infrastructure (CPMI) project and the NZTSN.

"The CPMI project will replace parts of the system currently used to protect classified New Zealand government information," it said.

The CPMI allows communications classified higher than "restricted" to be protected through advanced encryption.

The GCSB has completed the initial installation of new infrastructure and the system is expected to be operational in 2019.

Furthermore, the new infrastructure will support a number of other government agencies in the sector, most notably the intelligence community, the Defence Force, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Police.

The NZTSN will mirror a similar network used for restricted-grade communications and provide an enhanced suite of secure information communication technology services for a number of agencies.

"This work will replace a number of legacy systems with infrastructure that is more flexible and easier to maintain," the report said. "The resilience and interoperability of core systems will be improved as well."

The new capabilities will be provisioned and operated by the GCSB, which completed a design stage of the project and started development of some of the core activities.

The Security Intelligence Service's annual report said it was envisaged that the merged directorate group would lead technical innovation and development across the Kiwi intelligence community.

The change to the technology directorate followed the creation joint directors’-general office across the agencies which has been in place for over a year.

As previously reported, in March 2018, cabinet approved the GCSB to continue the development and implementation of Malware-Free Networks as an extension of its Cortex programme in order to provide the cyber security service to a wider range of New Zealand organisations of national significance by June 2020.