Local technology companies have been invited to tender to become technology evaluators in an international accreditation scheme used by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
The inclusion has been hailed as good news if it gives the local security industry more clout and lower evaluation costs.
The GCSB is a government advisory body, which in the past has been decried by activist Nicky Hager and others for allegedly spying, performing surveillance and for being obstructive to the exports of encryption-based software.
Its two main roles are to maintain national security intelligence and act as an adviser to government on IT purchases and policy.
The tender which local companies are invited to participate in is part of the AISEP (Australasian Information Security Evaluation Programme) scheme, run under the Australian Commonwealth Government’s Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). The scheme evaluates technologies including public key technology, smart cards and network security products according to internationally recognised standards, and then the DSD credits those products as suitable for use by government departments.
GSCB is part of AISEP’s management board and uses the scheme to advise the government and armed forces here – and the evaluated list is also available for industry.
Baycorp ID Services chief executive David Young says "classic” technology companies prepared to invest in the costs of setting up testing labs are more likely to respond to the tender than services companies like his own.
Baycorp ID Services would be more likely to be a user of the service, putting its products up for evaluation.
But Young says the tender is “good news” for local industry both because it opens up the process to more than the current Australian duopoly of testers -- Computer Sciences and Admiral -- and should bring down costs.
In the past a major barrier for local companies wanting to get their products evaluated has been cost, which can go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“I would like to think New Zealand companies would be more cognitive of the costs involved for local companies,” he says.