UK police are to ditch Unix technology in favour of Windows NT in the national rollout of its investigation management system, Holmes 2.
Police forces use the Holmes 2 system, designed by Unisys, for co-ordinating major criminal investigation, such as murder and terrorism, and detecting patterns in less serious crime.
Holmes 2 currently uses Windows NT at the client side and XPG4-compliant Unix on application and database servers. Unisys said it plans to migrate the whole system to Windows NT, possibly Windows 2000, over the next 12 months.
Unisys said the migration to Windows NT will allow Holmes 2 to be sold to police in other countries, where Windows is already used. It said NT also supports thin clients and wireless clients so detectives can input information at the scene of the crime.
Paul Rogers, network security analyst at security consultancy MIS, said the risk to system security when using Windows NT could be greater than that of a properly configured Solaris platform.
"My concern is that the security risk would be greater with Windows NT, especially with the amount of vulnerabilities discovered with the system each month. Both systems have a number of vulnerabilities, but there a great deal more of Microsoft vulnerabilities compared with the quantity of Solaris platforms," he said.
However, Neil Barrett, technical consultant at security firm Information Risk Management, said Windows NT has the potential to be "every bit as secure as a Unix system can be".
"Changing to NT shouldn't impact on security as such," he said. "Both can be configured by idiots to be widely open or by paranoids to be as hard as nails. NT is a lot easier to manage and is more easily available to the police."
The national rollout of Holmes 2 in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is underway and is expected to be completed by 2002.
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