Use Cases

Being SUNFISH conceived following a user-centric approach, its practicability has been tested on the three public administrations partner of the Project and shaped around their real needs. These use cases are effective demonstrators of the how the platform works and how the public sector can take advantage of its technology. In the following paragraphs this document presents in order: the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance’s use case, the Maltese Ministry of Finance’s use case and the UK South East Regional Organised Crime Unit’s one.

Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) of Italy: Online services for managing personnel salary accounts

The General Administration, Personnel and Services Department (DAG) of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) is in charge of the management of payroll functions for approximately 2.1 million Italian public sector employees. Such service is provided through a unique payroll function, NoiPA – which currently manages annually more than €51 billion in payments. Starting in 2015, the compulsory entrance in NoiPA of Italian police and military personnel generated an increase of around 25% of the monthly payslips managed by the system.
The Italian legal framework forces the Ministry of Interior (MIN), in charge of Police Forces, to be the exclusive controller of sensitive data of its employees. The main problem generated by the entrance in NoiPA of MIN’s employees was overcoming segregation of Public Bodies data among Clouds for calculating payslips.
In particular, the MEF must compute local taxes on actual residence, which is however sealed for data classification purposes within the MIN. The MEF and the MIN had therefore to balance two contrasting needs: on one side, the MEF’s need to have certified computation of sensitive data, on the other side the MIN’s need to keep sensitive data within its perimeter. This created a problem for the overall calculation of taxes and to overcome it the MEF and the MIN were forced to an intricate cooperation keeping low level of efficiency and elevated costs.
The potential conundrum was overcome via a Federation-as-a-Service platform and its blockchain-empowered Service Ledger infrastructure. This system, put in place by SUNFISH, allows the democratic governance of cloud federations: none of the federated clouds rules on the other, but each of them shares the same duty and authority. The SUNFISH platform is conceived to be deployed in a distributed manner on top of all federated clouds, thus to avoid any centralised control and component. Moreover, privacy-preserving components secure storage, sharing and computation of sensitive data. Through the installation of the SUNFISH Platform in their respective private clouds, the two ministries split the payroll application in two parts, one placed on the MEF to compute the bulk payroll and one on the MIN to process localised sensitive data.

This test-bed is used as a demonstrator for the SUNFISH platform so as to enable the processing of sensitive data and personally identifiable information hosted in the cloud and shared between the MEF and MIN. The SUNFISH framework demonstrates the capability of sharing resources from different private clouds, boosting the efficiency in the utilization of both infrastructures and of the overall process
SUNFISH has also set the basis, and parts of it are currently being used, for deploying a large-scale digital transformation programme – Cloudify NoiPA – meant to evolve and expand the services provided by Italy’s NoiPA platform.

Ministry of Finance of Malta (MFIN): Use of Public Cloud PaaS to host SaaS and/or to integrate with commercial SaaS solutions and MFIN own private cloud to provide data to MFIN, while ensuring data confidentiality, integrity and availability

The Maltese Ministry for Finance has been leading the innovation of the Country’s Public Sector with the goal of easing citizens’ interaction with the Government. This has been achieved by adopting a once-only principle and by facilitating the re-use of public data. Pushed by the growing awareness of central public administrations’ need to promote a different role across Europe, the Ministry’s interest for innovation led it to look for proposals in the field of cloud computing for the public sector.
Such kind of development is a great opportunity in particular within the Taxation Department, which requires taxpayers, employers, banks and SMEs, to submit information to the Office of the Commissioner for Revenue. This information relates to Payroll, Financial Statements, information related to payments that qualify for deduction from chargeable income, and receipts of payments that need to be included in taxable income, trading records and accounting records that maybe subject to audit checks.
Large enterprises can lean on their financial capability to submit payroll data and financial statements via the Department’s website and await for the end of the year to receive their tax deduction back. Small businesses, on the other hand, might struggle because of their financial means.
Where applicable, the Department requires data from Employers and other third parties for the calculation of tax statements and eventual issuance of refunds. To provide a holistic solution, the Department can make use of public cloud services to host Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and to federate these with its own private cloud.
This use case enables the use of public cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings to deploy applications which collect data and perform required calculations and validations while ensuring compliance with the secrecy, privacy and data protection legislations and regulations. It also allows for the use of federated systems between the MFIN application on the public cloud PaaS and other commercial SaaS solutions providing services such as payroll etc.

Thanks to SUNFISH, it will be able to federate the different clouds, which host the required data, and to calculate simultaneously taxes and tax refunds. The framework provides the enabling platform to exploit these new services, permitting the integration of heterogeneous platforms and providing an affordable alternative, which drives down the cost of compliance for all businesses. The Ministry’s decision to adopt SUNFISH has allowed its employees to calculate taxes and social security contributions efficiently and immediately after legislative changes. This happens because they can promptly access payroll information and amount of tax and contributions due by employers.
While safeguarding information online and compliant with secrecy and data protection legislation, SUNFISH reduces the cost of the Tax Authorities to operate the systems collecting information from taxpayers and employers and processes data in a more efficient and effective manner. The efficient mechanism offered by SUNFISH avails SMEs to present, and obtain feedback on, the information required by the Tax Authorities. SMEs, who have not been able up until now to comply with data provision requirements in a cost effective manner, are the main beneficiary of this platform.

South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) in UK: Secure Cloud Storage for Data

South East Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SEROCU) is one of the nine Regional Cyber Crime Unit (ROCU) operating across the UK. Besides its regional role, it collaborates on a national level with major crime units, all ROCUs and the National Cyber Crime Unit, to prosecute offenders based in Europe and beyond.
SEROCU is responsible for the investigation of offences categorised under the Misuse of Computer’s Act 1990 and other offences where a digital aspect is believed to be involved. Its powers include the seizure and forensic examination of digital data and electronic devices, as well as live network investigations. Part of SEROCU’s mandate is to store securely large quantities of cyber-crime evidences and highly sensitive data, such as: high-level corporate information, data produced from network servers and personal digital storage devices. Its investigations generate evidences with different security classifications, each of which, depending on Governmental guidance, comes with its own strict handling conditions.
The storage of such data must be localised on the Unit’s premises but at the same time, each unit must ensure access, in a regulated manner and with different levels of accessibility, to all other ROCUs while investigations are in process. The sharing of such information among ROCUs not only encountered difficulties brought about the different interfaces implemented, but it was convoluted and hardly automated. Moreover, due to changing reporting procedures around cyber-crime issues, it is impossible to predict with certainty the future demand for the unit and, therefore, data capacity and processing requirements. There is a current need to ensure the efficient and secure reception, supply, and storage of intelligence/data between the regional units, local policing forces, and governmental departments
Clouds have the ability to help overcoming concealed ROCUs data storage systems by fostering cross-Cloud regulated sharing of information. This would allow reaping the cost, usability and connectivity benefits of the cloud, whilst sharing the infrastructure safely and reliably between many different Government and Policing agencies.
Nevertheless, SEROCU would find it difficult to set up, run and sustain a cross-Cloud sharing system by itself and its main difficulty, namely making data available to the Cloud federation participants, while keeping them private, may not be addressed. SUNFISH has developed a cloud federation-based system that allows SEROCU, and the other nine Regional Cyber Crime Units (ROCUs), to make their cyber-crime evidences searchable and shareable. Due to the critical level of sensitivity of the data managed by each ROCU, various requirements relating to access, computation and sharing of data must be enforced.
SUNFISH deploys a platform to securely federate different Clouds keeping the control on owned data and resolves the conundrum of “privacy vs. availability” by the use of Secure Multiparty Computation (SMC). The Platform offers a state-of-the-art Secure Multiparty Computation service, based on advanced cryptography techniques, which ensures that a functionality can be carried out on privacy sensitive data without leaking any private bit. Namely, SMC offers a privacy-preserving approach to search keywords on distributed data sources. The servers carrying out the search on the data does not have any clue on the data they are searching, neither on the keyword of interest they are searching for.

Exploiting SUNFISH and its SMC services ensures that data is securely stored in each unit, but at the same time searchable without maximum privacy and handling guarantees. This way, SEROCU sensitive data is automatically queried according to vetting levels and security classification policies. This widens connections and collaboration with all other Units and improves effectiveness of criminal investigations.
SUNFISH provides a proof-of-concept and a first-time application to cyber-crime evidences of privacy-preserving cross-Cloud searchable data. In the increasing pressure of austerity, the successful outcome of this use case forms a business case that SEROCU could put to, among others, the UK National Crime Agency, Police ICT office and other ROCUs for consumer-grade deployment of SUNFISH at the national scale