Feeds

Darling admits Revenue loss of 25 million personal records

Lost: Two discs, 25 million accounts

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

UK Identity Crisis Alistair Darling told the House of Commons this afternoon that a police investigation has been launched into how Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has lost child benefit records relating to 25 million people.

Records for 25 million people, relating to child benefit payments for 7.25 million families, were sent using the HMRC's own postal system, called grid, but never arrived.

The Chancellor, flanked by PM Gordon Brown, told the House that the National Audit Office requested information which was first sent to them in March, in breach of HMRC procedures, and then returned to HMRC.

In October the NAO made another request and the entire database was put onto two password-protected discs which were sent by grid post.

Those discs did not arrive and cannot be found. A further copy of the information was sent again, this time by registered post.

Darling was first told November 10 and called for an immediate search. On Monday, November 12, he was told HMRC believed it would find the data but on Wednesday Darling called the police in to investigate. Police are continuing to search NAO and HMRC offices.

Darling said in light of the most recent failures, along with previous losses of a laptop and 15,000 records, he was asking Kieron Poynter of PWC to investigate HMRC procedures. An interim report is expected next month and the full report next spring.

Banks have been informed and are monitoring relevant accounts as well as tracking back to transactions made after 18 October. Darling said police had found no evidence of the data being misused.

Vincent Cable, acting leader of the Lib Dems, asked why any information was being sent around via CD rather than electronically and if this was a result of HMRC's ancient IT system.

Richard Thomas, Information Commissioner, said: “This is an extremely serious and disturbing security breach. This is not the first time that we have been made aware of breaches at the HM Revenue and Customs – we are already investigating two other breaches.

Any system was only as good as its weakest link, Thomas said: "The alarm bells must now ring in every organisation about the risks of not protecting people’s personal information properly.

"As I highlighted earlier this year, it is imperative that organisations earn public trust and confidence by addressing security and other data protection safeguards with the utmost vigour."

Thomas said the PWC report would be passed on to him, "and we will then decide what further action may be appropriate. Searching questions need to be answered about systems, procedures and human error inside both HMRC and NAO.”

Jamie Cowper, Director of European Marketing at PGP Corporation, said in a statement: "These discs should never have been transported in the first place - information of this type should only be transmitted using the strongest security protocols available such as encrypted batch transfer - but more to the point, these details should not have been stored in this medium.

Discs are easy to lose, but difficult to protect. This type of information should only be stored on formats where the data can be encrypted transparently, so that it remains protected wherever it resides, and whether at rest or in motion."®

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.