Feeds

Lost CD may put pension holders in peril

HMRC dodges cryptic question

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Thousands of customers of UK insurer Standard Life have been left at risk of fraud after their personal details were lost by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Data on 15,000 pension policy holders, sent in a CD from HMRC offices in Newcastle to Standard Life's Edinburgh headquarters by courier, never arrived.

The lost disc contained names, national insurance numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and pension data. Information such as this would easily lend itself to abuse by crooks if it fell into the wrong hands. Providing fraudsters were able to read the disc they might be able to apply for loans or credit cards under false names.

News of the loss of the disc, which should have arrived five weeks ago, emerged over the weekend after Standard Life sent out warning letters to its clients. Standard Life's director for customer services, John Gill, told BBC Radio 4's Money Box program: "We have no evidence that the disc has fallen into third party hands and we have also been closely monitoring all the accounts and have seen no indications of any suspicious activity."

UK tax authorities reportedly routinely send confidential data on taxpayers to their pension providers via CD, a procedure that has been found wanting of late. A second CD containing information on customers of an unnamed second insurer has also gone missing, the BBC reports.

HM Revenue has declined to confirm whether the data on the disks was encrypted or not.

This latest in a seemingly never-ending series of security breaches by large organisations on either side of the Atlantic shows the issue is far from confined to lost laptops or leaky database servers. Some organisations have become repeat offenders.

Only last month, for example, HM Revenue lost a laptop containing the personal details of 2,000 people with investment ISAs. In May, Standard Life sent around 300 policy documents to the wrong people.

Security vendors were quick to point to the benefits of encryption in preventing customer information security breaches. "This latest leak shows how easy it is for personal data to go astray, even when being delivered personally," said Nick Lowe, Check Point's regional director for Northern Europe.

"Data needs to be protected wherever it is, whether it's in motion on a CD or laptop computer, or at rest within the company network. Strong encryption really is the only way to achieve this, and the encryption should be automated so that it happens without users' intervention." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.