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

Defeating ransomware with unified security from WatchGuard

How SMBs can defend against the onslaught of ransomware attacks

Free download

The IT expert’s guide to AI and content management

How artificial intelligence and machine learning could be critical to your business

Free download

The path to CX excellence

Four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Free download

Becoming an experience-based business

Your blueprint for a strong digital foundation

Free download

Recommended

The IT Pro Podcast: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world
digital transformation

The IT Pro Podcast: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world

27 Aug 2021
Podcast transcript: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world
digital transformation

Podcast transcript: Digital stagnation in a post-COVID world

27 Aug 2021
SMBs rethinking return to office amid Delta surge
flexible working

SMBs rethinking return to office amid Delta surge

25 Aug 2021
Infostretch and INDIASHIELD partner to resolve COVID crisis in India
Software

Infostretch and INDIASHIELD partner to resolve COVID crisis in India

9 Aug 2021

Most Popular

What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
Citrix mulling potential sale after tumultuous 2021
mergers and acquisitions

Citrix mulling potential sale after tumultuous 2021

15 Sep 2021
Zoom: From pandemic upstart to hybrid work giant
video conferencing

Zoom: From pandemic upstart to hybrid work giant

14 Sep 2021