Feeds

Home Office coughs to five database breaches

The internal menace

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

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.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
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.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.