Feeds

Senior officials now in frame for HMRC data fiasco

Union says security crisis should mean job cut halt

Top three mobile application threats

UK Identity Crisis Senior officials were involved in the decision to post the UK's child benefit database on unencrypted CDs, it emerged overnight.

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said decisions were made at a higher level and that the NAO asked for the data be "desensitised" but this was rejected on grounds of expense. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs sent 25m records on two unencrypted CDs three times; the second envelope never arrived at the National Audit Office and is still missing.

As the scandal broke earlier this week, government spinners insisted that the error was down to a junior official at the Washington, Tyne and Wear office, acting well outside their remit.

But Bourn yesterday told a secret session of the Public Accounts Committee that it was a senior manager at HMRC authorised the release of the data and that his email on the data sharing was cc'd to an assistant director.

The Tories described the data loss disaster as evidence of "systemic failure, not individual error by a junior official".

A spokeswoman for HMRC said: "We have no comment to make on individual officials. There is a police investigation ongoing so we cannot comment."

A junior official from the Child Benefit IT department has reportedly been suspended and sent to a nearby hotel with a minder in order to protect his or her identity.

Unions, meanwhile, have simultaneously slammed the scapegoating of a junior member of staff and blamed the government for stretching HMRC to breaking point.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said in a statement that the government's determination to slash 25,000 jobs within the next five years had placed a huge strain on resources.

Since March 2005 the PCS said that the government had made 13,000 job cuts at HMRC with a further 12,500 planned by 2011.

It said: "With additional security checks expected to be put in place for people claiming and making enquiries about Child Benefit we urge the government to put extra resources into HMRC rather than continuing with cutting jobs."

PCS union rep Graham Steel, who has been in talks with the HMRC over the ongoing job cuts on the Capgemini Aspire contract where up to 600 UK workers are expected to take compulsory redundancy, told El Reg that "it was only a matter of time before something went wrong."

He said that the chancellor's attempts to "save pennies" had seriously backfired.

"That's why we don't like seeing work off-shored. It raises all kinds of security issues about sensitive data and the worry is that it could get into the wrong hands."

Asked if the union would support the official at the centre of the data loss storm, Steel said that it was union policy to "represent them just the same as any other case."

Chancellor Alistair Darling also said yesterday that the disaster actually strengthened arguments in favour of ID cards. He rejected calls from the Tories that the government should think again. Darling also denied the recent merger of Revenue and Customs, and associated job losses, had anything to do with the disastrous data giveaway.

There's more from the Guardian here.®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.