WINZ: Network not accessible

Work and Income NZ says job seekers will not be able to access other individuals' sensitive personal data.

Work and Income NZ says job seekers will not be able to access other individuals' sensitive personal data. Wellington’s Dominion newspaper reported earlier this month that job seeker Ian Goldsmith turned up at the Newtown Winz office to search for job vacancies through the PCs there, and was told he could not use the machines, known as Workpoints, because the person who knew the password for them was away. The newspaper quoted a Winz spokeswoman as saying the department's services centres where job seekers looked for work are networked to the department's main computer system. "They are password-protected to ensure people don't walk in off the street and use them inappropriately," she reportedly said. But this comment does not mean information on the main Winz databases could be accessed by job seekers in the office or using the web interface at home, says Winz information chief Stewart Watson. There is a firewall between job inquiry and the department's main applications and databases, he says, in addition to “a variety of other accepted industrial-strength solutions". “A user ID and password is not sufficient to traverse the internal department network beyond the limits enforced by internal systems, particularly from a Workpoint or similar unauthorised public access point.” The point of password protecting the PC is to limit it to the job-searching application and ensure other “inappropriate” use cannot be made of it, says Winz spokeswoman Nikki Douglas. If the PCs in Winz offices were left open to other uses, people who genuinely want to use them for the purpose intended would have to wait, she says. Douglas says that Goldsmith was misinformed, in any case. "He spoke to a new staff member who was not yet aware that most staff know the password and are able to give it to clients who ask. That staff member has now been brought up to speed on that," she says.

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