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Australian Department of Parliamentary Services Wants Better Recovery

The Australian Department of Parliamentary Services has said that it needs to improve its disaster recovery and data management. This comes after there was a power outage in the Parliament House data centre.

The issue was raised by Dr Dianne Heriot, the department’s acting secretary, during a Budget Estimates hearing.

From the budget, the agency have been allocated AU$3.031 million to improve the IT security in parliament. They have also been given AU$7.7 million to improve the network and IT security for the electorate offices of members of parliament. Heriot also said that the department was now looking at financing disaster recovery management.

“Last week's power outage in the Parliament House ICT data centre has highlighted the need for better practice data recovery capability for parliamentary IT services,” she said. “We are looking as a matter of priority within our current budget as to what we can do to improve our disaster recovery capability.”

Speaking to ZDNet, a department spokesperson told the site that the power outage happened during a scheduled maintenance during a Friday night. They said that no data was lost and that the downtime occurred during a planned check of the Uninterruptible Power Supply system.

“All Parliamentary Computer Network (PCN) users had been advised of a planned service disruption to 3am. All core ICT services were restored within two hours,” they said.

The Department of Parliamentary Services not only services the IT for all of parliament, but also for all the members and senators in the electorate offices. As such, they allocate mobiles, computers, and create email accounts for them all.

While consumer data backup is important, it’s even more paramount when it comes to governmental services. As an example, Estonia recently began investing in digital continuity; protecting all of their government data against possible attacks from Russia. While the Australian government might not be dealing with the same threat, their data is always at risk – from malicious access, but also from standard data failure that can affect anyone.

Two of the key things that matter the most when it comes to data are security and redundancy. Security is especially important for governmental data because it could extremely damaging if an outside party got hold of it – not only does the backup need to be encrypted, but it also needs to be physically stored in a safe location too.

Redundancy is also a key aspect of backup. This means that you always have a working copy of your data easily accessible to reduce downtime. In fact, an ideal backup solution would mean that you never have any downtime. It should always be possible to have a copy of your data to fall back on, even if it isn’t the latest version. This is even truer in governmental services, where not having access to data or email accounts could account for lost time.

Every government should always look for ways to improve their disaster recovery and backup procedures. In a world that continues to store increasing amounts of data, governments should not rest on their laurels when it comes to securing their lifeblood.


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