At the moment it thinks that the problems were not caused by

May 11, 2014

The problem with e

canada goose coats on sale Computer consultant Bill Thompson outlines the challenges facing governments trying to offer services over the internet, in his weekly column. canada goose coats on sale

canada goose factory sale If we are all going to fall in with the UK Government’s plans and start using the increasing number of official websites to do things like canada goose outlet germany book a driving test, apply for a passport canada goose outlet michigan or pay for a TV licence then what is on offer needs be extremely well thought out. canada goose factory sale

There are serious barriers to overcome if we are going to embrace canada goose outlet location the new “government to citizen” services that will save money, improve performance and give us all a better relationship with government at local and national level.

canada goose coats The services need to be sophisticated enough to deal with complicated transactions. Forms like tax returns are complex because taxation is hard to figure out, not because the chancellor is vindictive and likes to make us struggle with our calculators. canada goose coats

New net users may find it difficult to use the sites because they don’t know where to look for help or advice, or because the services themselves assume a lot of computer confidence.

And old time net users like me may be sceptical about how efficient, secure and reliable they can be, or dubious about the advertised advantages and effectiveness of notifying everyone of your change of address online.

One of the worst things that can happen, though, canada goose outlet orlando is a major breach of security in canada goose outlet mississauga a key service.

buy canada goose jacket Just when people were starting to trust the government with their private personal data, the news that the Inland Revenue had suspended a major part of its online self assessment service because it was not secure sent shivers down the spine of anyone who thinks that online government is a good idea. buy canada goose jacket

The problem has affected very few people, but it has worried a lot more. There are several ways to send in your tax return electronically, and one is to use the revenue’s own software, SA Online.

Unfortunately some people using it last month found that they could see other people’s tax returns when they were online something that is obviously not supposed to happen.

It’s a shame that the Inland Revenue, which has led the way in using the net to let us do things instead of just find out information about government activity, should be the one to fall foul of a security failure.

It withdrew the service once it was told about this and, to its credit, it has not tried to hide the problem or pretended it didn’t exist.

Canada Goose Coats On Sale The Inland Revenue is still working out what went wrong and how to fix it, and the other parts of its service are still running and seem to be secure. At the moment it thinks that the problems were not caused by the SA canada goose outlet sale Online software itself or by its internal systems. Canada Goose Coats On Sale

There are rumours that only customers of one internet service provider had experienced the problem, indicating that it could be something to do with the way that this particular ISP had set up its network.

The obvious suspicion is that the ISP concerned was storing or “caching” pages that its customers had accessed so that it could send local copies of those same pages to other customers if they asked for them, speeding up its web access.

Unfortunately, if I had just viewed my own tax return and it was stored in the cache then it could in theory be sent to someone else who was trying to see their tax return instead.

canada goose store Allocating blame like this is to miss the point. The internet is phenomenally complicated, as anyone who has talked to a technical support phone line while trying to sort out a problem with their e mail will testify. canada goose store

The number of separate organisations, networks and programs which have to work together seamlessly in order to allow you to sit at canada goose outlet toronto home at 3 o’clock in the morning and fill in your tax return is frighteningly large.

Apart from the manufacturer of your PC and its operating system, you have got your network access software, your anti virus software, your web browser and the tax software itself.

Then there is the network, sending data through several different computers to make the link between canada goose outlet you and the revenue. I have just checked and there are at least 15 computers sitting between me and the Inland Revenue website, and any information I send has to go through all of them.

Finally, there are the computers and the software running on them.

Canada Goose sale It is surprising that the net works at all, and doubly surprising that it goes wrong so rarely. But our canada goose outlet store calgary expectations are high, and they need to be. Canada Goose sale

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Many of the serious canada goose outlet boston security problems discovered in today’s network software only become apparent when different systems start working together, but the secrecy which most companies insist on means that it is often impossible to know in advance that this will happen.

canadian goose jacket Giving everyone a chance to see program code is one way of improving this. canadian goose jacket

The open source movement is campaigning hard to persuade even the largest software companies, like Microsoft, to open up their programs and let everyone look for errors or security problems.

But it’s only part of the solution. The Inland Revenue’s security problem highlights clearly that the internet can only work and can only deliver the benefits it has promised if all the people and companies involved work together.

The net was built on co operation and openness, and the technical standards that make it work the TCP/IP standard came about because large numbers of people worked hard to build something that was available to everyone.

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