NHSX contact-tracing app reportedly failed cyber security tests

Report emerges as Apple and Google double-down on privacy with location tracking ban

The contact-tracing app developed by the NHSX has been described as “a bit wobbly” by senior NHS employees, who told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that it has so far failed security tests. 

The anonymous sources revealed to the medical policy news service that the app had initially failed all of the tests required in order to be included in the NHS app library, including cyber security, performance and clinical safety.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) denied the claims. 

“The NHS COVID-19 app has not failed any clinical assessments and NHS Digital has been clear it will go through the normal assessment and approval process following the Isle of Wight roll-out,” they said.

The DHSC spokesperson also clarified that the app would monitor people’s locations, a possibility which was seen as a significant privacy violation.

“Privacy and security has been paramount throughout the app’s development, and we have worked in partnership with the National Cyber Security Centre throughout. The app uses low-energy Bluetooth, not GPS, and therefore it does not track people’s locations or record their locations.”

The news comes as Google and Apple announced that they would ban the use of location tracking in apps that use their contact-tracing API, which uses Bluetooth signals to detect encounters but does not use or store GPS location data.

A number of European countries have leaned towards the decentralised Apple-Google API, while the UK snubbed the two tech giants last week and announced it would be developing its own centralised model.

Related Resource

Don’t just collect data, innovate with it.

Removing the barriers to the experience economy

Download now

Senior NHS sources told HSJ that the UK government was “going about it in a kind of a hamfisted way. They haven’t got clear versions, so it’s been impossible to get a fixed code base from them for NHS Digital to test. They keep changing it all over the place”. 

In spite of all these issues, HSJ’s sources clarified that the app was not a “big disaster”. Starting today, the system is being trialled on the Isle of Wight and, if it passes tests, it is expected to become available to the public in mid-May, when lockdown restrictions are expected to be gradually lifted.

Featured Resources

The complete guide to changing your phone system provider

Optimise your phone system for better business results

Download now

Simplify cluster security at scale

Centralised secrets management across hybrid, multi-cloud environments

Download now

The endpoint as a key element of your security infrastructure

Threats to endpoints in a world of remote working

Download now

2021 state of IT asset management report

The role of IT asset management for maximising technology investments

Download now

Recommended

The IT Pro Podcast: What COVID-19 can teach us about open data
Data & insights

The IT Pro Podcast: What COVID-19 can teach us about open data

30 Oct 2020
The future tech helping battle the pandemic
Technology

The future tech helping battle the pandemic

20 Oct 2020
Transforming training with virtual reality
Careers & training

Transforming training with virtual reality

20 Oct 2020
Salesforce aims to help manage coronavirus vaccine demand
sales & CRM

Salesforce aims to help manage coronavirus vaccine demand

29 Sep 2020

Most Popular

Do smart devices make us less intelligent?
artificial intelligence (AI)

Do smart devices make us less intelligent?

19 Oct 2020
Best MDM solutions 2020
mobile device management (MDM)

Best MDM solutions 2020

21 Oct 2020
What is Neuralink?
Technology

What is Neuralink?

24 Oct 2020