Feeds

Confidential report reveals ContactPoint security fears

ICO orders much-delayed publication

Intelligent flash storage arrays

An independent study on the previous government's controversial child protection database highlighted significant security and privacy risks.

Deloitte found significant shortcomings in the security of the ContactPoint database when it evaluated the system back in 2008. But only a summary of its report was ever published prior to May's general election despite repeated calls by the then opposition to publish the security audit in full. Attempts by the Tories and children's charities to use Freedom of Information Act requests to force the publication of the report were also rebuffed.

Now, following a change of government, the Information Commissioner has ordered the publication of the main (partially redacted) findings of Deloitte's study, which reveals that management consultants were concerned about issues including inconsistent security standards at local councils with access to the database and the insecure disposal of computers used to access the system. Auditors were concerned that kit sold on eBay or dumped might contain portions of the confidential database, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The confidential Deloitte security audit warned of significant residual security risks in running the database despite the best efforts of its architects to make the system secure.

In particular inconsistent security policies at local authorities "pose a significant risk to ContactPoint and its assets". The auditors also warned of the possibility of "information leakage" from the insecure disposal of electronic and printed records from the ContactPoint database.

The ContactPoint system was due to include the names, addresses and contact details of all 11 million under-18s in England. The child protection database was designed to provide social workers, police and hospitals with common access to contact details on children, their guardians and other professionals who might be working with a potential vulnerable child. Contact details on an estimated 52,000 at-risk children would have been shielded.

Security experts quizzed by The Reg warned that the sheer volume of data held on the database and the wide number of professionals authorised to access it made data breaches almost inevitable. Ministers gave the go-ahead for the national roll-out of the system last November.

ContactPoint was due to cost £224m to establish, with a further £44m in annual running costs. Before the election both main opposition parties pledged to scrap the system but since then the Coalition Government has delayed its closure amid speculation, denied by the government, that the system may continue in a scaled-down form.

A Department for Education spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: "One of the first actions for the department immediately after the election was to start shutting down ContactPoint.

"We are currently looking at ways of salvaging investment which went into the system and we will terminate its operation soon. We have issued advice to local authorities that no more resources should be ploughed into the system." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.