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EDITIONS
Monday, 16 December, 2002, 11:05 GMT
E-mail security warning for MPs
Teenage internet user
E-mail security "needs to be improved"
Urgent steps are needed to improve awareness among MPs and civil servants over which e-mails are secure and which are not, ministers have been warned.

We need some form of encryption that everybody can share

Graham Allen, Labour MP

The government has a secure intranet system, which is used for internal communications - but as soon as e-mails are sent outside that system, they run the risk of being intercepted and read.

Richard Allan, chairman of the all-party internet group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme many MPs and civil servants were not aware of how easy it was for e-mails to be read by the wrong person.

"We are adjusting to using e-mail and there are still some serious weaknesses in the system," the Liberal Democrat MP told Today.

Previous attempts to bring in secure encryption had been hampered by a government desire not to have all e-mails routinely encrypted.

Ministers needed to realise "there is nothing dodgy about wanting to have privacy," said Mr Allan.

Priority

Encryption systems were available, Mr Allan said, but their use had to be more widely promoted by government.

"We need some form of encryption that everybody can share, whether it is local authorities, private citizens or the government.

"And that now has to be a priority for government services, to have secure encryption," he told Today.

An example given, where the lack of security could be a problem, were arrangements for a prime ministerial visit.

Internal government e-mails arranging it might be secure, but then e-mail communication to the council hosting the visit would not be secure.

See also:

01 Jun 01 | Science/Nature
28 Dec 01 | Science/Nature
13 Dec 02 | Politics
04 Apr 02 | Politics
Internet links:


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