Feeds

Government Gateway login details found in pub car park

Transformational security breaches

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Updated Key government services were taken offline over the weekend after the discovery in a pub car park of a pocket storage device containing details of the Government Gateway. The Gateway is intended to provide a central secure login service for a range of government systems, including tax credits and self assessment, so taking it offline paralyses these too, before you can say 'single point of failure'.

The device, which was passed to the Mail on Sunday last week, was lost two weeks ago outside a pub in Cannock, Staffordshire, by an employee of Atos Origin. In 2006 Atos Origin won a £46.7m five-year contract to provide managed IT services for the Government Gateway.

The Department of Work & Pensions claims that the data on the device was encrypted and the security of the Government Gateway had not been breached. However, according to the Mail, Jacques Erasmus, a security expert who examined the device for the paper, said it contained passwords, security software and "source code". Erasmus told the paper: "I could decrypt those passwords to log in to the system and roam around the network. As we can see from the data on the USB stick, the systems contain highly sensitive personal information. If you can crack those encrypted passwords, and it would just be a matter of time, you could potentially access those 12 million accounts and those details."

In a statement Atos Origin said that the removal of the device from its premises was in direct breach of its operating principles, while the DWP said that an "urgent investigation" was under way.

By lunchtime, the Information Commissioner had weighed in, with a statement informing us Richard Thomas "is now awaiting the results of ongoing investigations to establish the facts and the nature and extent of any risk to individuals."

The statement added, "The Information Commissioner expects the Government to take appropriate damage limitation steps as its first priority."

A year after the MHMRC data debacle, this sounds hopeful, at best.

Meanwhile, in an entirely unrelated piece of joined-up data loss, DWP Secretary James Purnell has been spotted shedding confidential documents on a train. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.