What’s the future of the PSN?

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    Friday14Feb 2020
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    Guest Blog: Hayley Mckean, Marketing Executive at Nine23 as part of our #Futurepublicsafety campaign week.

What is the PSN?

The Public Services Network (PSN) is the government’s secure, robust, high-performance network which helps public sector organisations work together, reduce duplication and share resources. 

Why is it being replaced?

According to the Government Digital Service (GDS) the PSN adds unnecessary complications to providing digital services therefore the public sector is now on a ‘journey away from the PSN’. 

When is it being replaced?

The GDS director of technical architecture and head of technology James Stewart, announced that the public sector would move away from the PSN in 2017. 

James highlighted the importance of ensuring the basic security of technology used by suppliers and government, but he said that the PSN no longer provides the best option for ensuring trust in data systems. 

Before moving ahead with an assurance alternative, the GDS will need to test each approach, starting the discovery and alpha processes in 2018 to demonstrate how government can move on.

It was made clear that the PSN transition would not happen immediately, there will be early movers who will switch to the internet immediately, some who already have and many for whom the process will be a slow one. Regardless, PSN-connected organisations will still need to continue to meet their assurance requirements. 

What is it being replaced with?

The GDS reviewed their position at a meeting of the Technology Leaders Network (TLN) and it was clear that everyone agreed they could just use the internet.

From 2017, new services have been made available on the internet and secured appropriately using the best available standards-based approaches. 
Mark Smith, head of PSN, has been working with data scientists in GDS and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to prototype other ways of providing assurance data that will help organisations establish trust. 

Public Services using the internet 

The internet is suitable for the vast majority of the work that the public sector does if the risks of using the internet are understood, the correct layers of security are implemented, and good guidance is followed. 

You can mitigate most risks when using the internet to make it more secure and more appropriate for your environment. The NCSC issue great guidance for both public and private organisations on how best to protect your organisation. For example; web traffic filtering, trusted endpoints, network protection, threat and antivirus detection etc. are all great practices to make part of your online strategy.

What is the FN4G?
The Future Networks for Government (FN4G) programme started in 2018 to help public sector organisations move to modern networking solutions and away from the legacy PSN. 

Phase 1: What’s happened so far

The GDS created guidance on moving to modern network solutions, which provides practical details of why and how to move away from legacy systems. 

Phase 2: Building a detailed tracker while helping organisations move away from the PSN 

In Phase 2, the GDS will focus on understanding the full end-to-end PSN landscape, looking at the bigger picture to help organisations on their journey to modernisation. Including, identifying appropriate transition paths from the PSN to new services for all public sector users and helping and guiding organisations to transition off as soon as possible. 

The GDS will work with public sector bodies to support organisations to move off PSN and to share information as easily and as cost effectively as possible. Making sure that the benefits of moving away from the PSN are understood and achievable. 

By the end of Phase 2 in March 2020, we will be in a better position to determine how long the PSN will be required by the public sector and how we can accelerate the transition to new solutions. If your organisation is still using the PSN, you will still need to meet PSN compliance. 

How can Nine23 help?

To make your PSN transition easier, Nine23 are a solutions provider that can provide you connectivity to both the PSN and the internet where you will be supported for each step of the journey away from the PSN. It is clear that whilst the intent is to use the internet as the bearer system in the future instead of the PSN however you still need to understand your organisations risks and have your own environments secured. 

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