Communicating securely with fellow-public authorities, always

When, as a government organisation in The Netherlands, you connect to Diginetwerk [translation: Diginetwork], you can exchange data with other public authorities in a trustworthy and secure manner. “You will instantly have access to the entire public chain”, says Alexander Hielkema, Team Leader of Infrastructure at Logius. Logius is the digital government service provider of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and member of Euritas.

 

100 percent availability

Just imagine not only being connected at any given time, but also having sufficient bandwidth to send what you want to. A utopian dream? Not with Diginetwerk. “In the service level agreements for the government’s closed network, we promise an availability of 99.95 percent”, says Hielkema. “Although in actual fact, that figure is 100 percent.” Diginetwerk is a service provided by Logius.

 

Working in a trusted environment

Diginetwerk consists of several government networks, which Logius links together securely. “Instead of setting up another network, we have connected the tools we currently have”, Hielkema explains. “This enables every government organisation to do its everyday work in its own trusted environment, but then to have instant access to the entire public chain.”

 

Trust in the digital infrastructure

According to Hielkema, the trustworthiness of Diginetwerk is a major benefit. “We are talking about sensitive information, such as citizens’ personal data. It is important that data of this kind are always available to government organisations that depend on basic registries. For example, when deciding the level of benefit to pay to an individual, organisations consult several basic registries. If you use data from other government organisations, you have to trust the infrastructure implicitly and Diginetwerk allows you to do that.” It is for good reason that the government’s generic digital infrastructure[1] (GDI) runs on the connectivity of Diginetwerk.

 

Highest achievable security

At Diginetwerk, maximum availability goes hand-in-hand with optimal security. This high level of security is primarily because the government network is entirely independent of the Internet. “If you think about it,” says Hielkema, “billions of organisations connect to the public Internet and you don’t know the majority of them. Hundreds of organisations are part of the Diginetwerk and you know that all of these are, in fact, colleagues.” Furthermore, Logius reaches clear agreements with these government organisations about keeping Diginetwerk and the public Internet traffic strictly separate from one another.

 

Experimenting with company connections

In the meantime, Diginetwerk continues to develop. For example, Logius has recently launched Diginetwerk Mail. This allows e-mail traffic between public authorities to be exchanged via Diginetwerk instead of the public Internet, thus automatically improving the security of this e-mail traffic. Logius is also giving thought to ways of also allowing companies to connect securely. Hielkema: “At the moment, when companies do business with public authorities and deliver data, they inevitably do that via the Internet. It would be nice if they could also utilise the trustworthiness of Diginetwerk. But that is still some way away as we will first have to carry out extensive testing, partly to ensure we can guarantee security. In that respect, we have to set high objectives.”

[1] The government’s generic digital infrastructure (GDI) is made up of standards, products and tools that are used jointly by public authorities, public organisations and, in a number of cases, private parties in The Netherlands. Diginetwerk is part of the GDI and provides the connectivity on which the GDI runs.”

Elise Nabbe, Logius (Netherlands)