Feeds

Home Office coughs to five database breaches

The internal menace

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Security at the British Home Office's Identity and Passport Service (IPS) database has been compromised four times, with individuals' data used inappropriately by Home Office employees and contractors. A fifth breach has hit a Prison Service database.

In three of the cases workers were able to access data they had no authority to use and in the fourth a worker who did have authority to access data used it inappropriately. The fifth case involves a worker accessing the Prison Service sentencing database, a Home Office spokesman said.

"Disciplinary action was taken that resulted in the dismissal of three of those people. A fourth resigned before the process of a charge of gross misconduct could be completed. Another was an employee at a private sector partner, who has been dismissed," said the spokesman.

The security breach has raised questions for some about the security of any database attached to identity cards, a major plank of current Government policy.

"Plainly, centralising all of our identity data into one register in the Home Office's control is going to expose our information to risk of abuse from staff," said Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of NO2ID, an anti-identity card pressure group.

"Many of the risks that attach are not so often about hacking from the outside but from the inside job, but this is something that the Home Office has completely and flatly denied throughout the process and said 'we'll have security protocols in place and procedures to stop this'," said Booth. "They've claimed this for other databases as well and yet we have highly publicised cases such as the chap at the DVLA who was passing information to [animal rights groups] not just a few times but over 13 months."

The Home Office spokesman said that remaining staff at the IPS have been warned about unauthorised access. "The IPS takes its security very, very seriously and has reminded staff that any breaches will involve a charge of gross misconduct which will result in dismissal and that any offender will be liable to prosecution," he said.

The Home Office could not confirm at time of going to press whether or not any further legal action or a prosecution will follow the dismissals.

The information came to light following a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrat Party. NO2ID says it is compiling information on further potential for security breaches within the Home Office.

"NO2ID has been approached by a contractor at one of the companies tendering for the database for the ID card system who described to us how quite regularly he was able to break protocol and gain access to supposedly highly secure databases of another wing of the Home Office while on a job," said Booth.

The Home Office said it could not comment without further details on the identity of the contracting company and the databases in question. Booth said the group would not make those details public until later this week.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.