04.27.15

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Patients’ Data at Risk as NHS Reinforces Its Microsoft/Accenture Stockholm Syndrome

Posted in Europe, Mail, Microsoft at 3:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Privatising the NHS and compromising privacy of every Brit with foreign entities

Accenture
CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia

Summary: The worst privacy violator in the world and the firm behind LSE failures are pocketing as much as £0.35 billion of British taxpayers’ money to acquire access to very sensitive data of British people

IT IS being reported in the British media that the NHS, which is gradually moving to adopt more and more Free/libre software, has just given a contract to Microsoft minion Accenture (article by IDG). £0.35 billion are to be spent on mail alone; that’s just crazy! That’s a big — even colossal! — mistake for the NHS to make when budget is tight and the Conservatives try to kill or privatise it. A lot of money for Microsoft/Accenture means that a degree of privatisation is happening here. “The same crew that did in the stock exchange,” iophk notes regarding the role played by Accenture. The article says “NHSmail has almost a million registered accounts and 730,000 active users. It has been running on Microsoft’s Exchange platform since 2009. Accenture is yet to confirm which IT systems it will use.” What a ripoff. £0.35 billion for less than a million users? What a heist! They should have gone with Free software and a British Free software consultancy. But since Conservatives like Cameron insist that encryption is such a nasty thing, no wonder an insecure proprietary alternative might be sought. Need PRISM (and by extension the NSA) be mentioned here?

Several days ago an article was published titled “The NHS must embrace open source to improve”. No doubt that’s true. The article says: “This is according to CIO at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust Rachel Dunscombe, who we recently caught up with to learn more about the transformation facing the UK healthcare system.

“Dunscombe told us that she is a strong supporter of open source in the NHS because it removes many of the risks presented by using proprietary products.”

The risks presented by proprietary products are not just to budget (disproportionately high cost) but also to patients. There have been stories about unencrypted data leaks and this new report from the British press [via Slashdot, which amended the post], calling out Windows, recalls Stuxnet and shows how using Microsoft Windows yourself helps your enemies (espionage): “Malware probers Tillmann Werner, of Crowdstrike, and Felix Leder, of BlueCoat, say the clever cyber-spy tool – said to have put back Iran’s nuclear program by two years – was on the brink of failure thanks to buggy code.

“Stuxnet had to remain undetected to the Iranians or else it would have blown the operation. Unfortunately, a programming blunder would have allowed it to spread to PCs running older and unsupported versions of Windows, and probably causing them to crash as a result. Those blue screens of death would have raised suspicions at the Natanz nuclear lab.”

And Windows continues to be used in British healthcare. This is insane. Another report from IDG in the UK helps Microsoft pretend to care about privacy (see “Microsoft moves to address customers’ concerns about cloud control and transparency”) while it’s actively providing the NSA with back doors, such as those which enabled sabotage in Iran.

If the NHS is serious about money savings and about privacy of patients, then it must immediately drop Windows and other Microsoft traps. As this British report from the other day serves to remind us, Windows ‘sales’ still are falling, largely due to GNU/Linux. It says that “Microsoft has weathered a tough three months, and despite signs of growth in cloud computing, Redmond saw its sales dragged down by dwindling demand from consumers.” Now recall the article above, “Microsoft moves to address customers’ concerns about cloud control and transparency”. Microsoft now wants the NHS to give Microsoft its data, using buzzwords like the ‘cloud’ nonsense. It is clear that the NHS should reject all that and just self-host using Free/libre Open Source software instead. It would cost far less than £0.35 billion and be more reliable, secure, etc.

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