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Vodafone selected for GCSB's pilot

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/03/2017 Paul McBeth

Vodafone New Zealand, the country's second largest internet service provider, is trialling a pilot programme for the Government Communications Security Bureau, using top-of-the-line technology to mitigate an increasing number of cyber attacks.

The programme is called Malware Free Networks, referring to foreign sourced advanced malicious software, and lets Vodafone use GCSB's cyber threat information and technology to mitigate those attacks for a small group of the ISP's commercial customers.

The GCSB had been keen to test its Cortex technology with an ISP since 2014, however Cabinet wanted the intelligence agency to report back before signing off on such a deal.

In December last year, GCSB director Andrew Hampton told Parliament's intelligence and security committee it wanted to increase the information it gives to ISPs from the Cortex system.

And in Thursday's first annual report on the government's Cyber Security Strategy Action Plan, Vodafone was named as the winning bidder for the pilot.

"The pilot involves GCSB sharing cyber threat information and technology with Vodafone NZ to help Vodafone mitigate malware for a small subset of its commercial customers," the report said.

The Cortex system became public when former Prime Minister John Key declassified some documents in response to claims by Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald and former US National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower fugitive Edward Snowden that New Zealand's GCSB embarked on plans to implement mass metadata surveillance.

This included the tapping of the Southern Cross Cable, in 2012 and 2013, in an initiative called 'Speargun'.

The business plan said there will be no mass surveillance, and that data will be accessed by GCSB only with the consent of owners of relevant networks or systems.

The cyber security strategy report said an independent quality assurance of Cortex found it was tracking to plan, and that it was "well-run, achieving maturity scores not normally seen for government projects" and with "particular strengths" around project leadership and management.

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