Feeds

Police send Reg hack CRB check database

Massive security breach prompts investigation

The essential guide to IT transformation

Exclusive Police face accusations of incompetence after accidentally emailing a file detailing the results of thousands of criminal records checks to a Register journalist.

The author of the email at Gwent Police is now facing a gross misconduct investigation and potential sacking over the incident, which came to light this week.

The file — a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which was not encrypted or password protected — contained the full names and dates of birth of 10,006 people in jobs or applying for jobs where a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) disclosure is required.

It detailed the results of the checks going back to 2001 and so identified 863 people as having been in trouble with police. In many cases it recorded their occupations, including dozens of taxi drivers, school and hospital workers.

Personal details and whether a CRB disclosure was made on foster carers, IT technicians and pest controllers was also included in the spreadsheet.

The Register has now deleted the file in cooperation with Gwent Police’s professional standards officers, who travelled to our London offices two days after being contacted.

Investigators are blaming human error for the data breach, rather than the system design. It occurred when the author of the email — a member of the force’s CID data management unit — used the autocomplete function in Novell’s email software to include the journalist’s address along with those of five Gwent Police officials in the “CC” field of the message.

The Register address had been automatically saved by the system after it was used to submit two unrelated Freedom of Information requests last year.

IT workers were immediately called in by chief constable Mick Giannasi to tighten system security so similar incidents cannot occur in the future. Gwent Police has now reported the breach to the Information Commissioner, as required under the Data Protection Act, and to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Meanwhile the individuals whose CRB results were leaked are being contacted to reassure them the sensitive information will not be published.

The incident will nevertheless embarrass ministers, who have mostly avoided serious data losses since a spate in 2007 prompted a review of information security across Whitehall.

Although police chief constables are responsible for their own data protection standards, the fact that some of the most sensitive information officialdom holds can be accidentally sent out as an unprotected spreadsheet will renew criticism of government data gathering and handling efforts.

The Home Office, responsible for policing and the CRB system, is not allowed to respond to press questions during the election campaign because of impartiality rules.

Gwent Police asked The Register to consider not publishing a story about its serious data breach saying it would undermine public confidence in the force, but we declined.

Gail Foley, Gwent Police’s “senior manager of public confidence”, said the force was very sorry over the breach and that its investigation continued. ®

Bootnote

Gwent Police has a help line on 01495 745430 for anyone with concerns.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
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.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.