Monday, November 26, 2007

MISSING DATA DISCS PUT BRITISH FAMILIES AT RISK

A massive security breach has left more than 25 million people at risk of fraud and identity theft after two discs containing sensitive information about child benefit claimants went missing in transit. The loss of the discs containing bank details, national insurance numbers, dates of birth and names and address of every family in the country claiming child benefit has caused the biggest data security breach in Britain’s history. Chancellor Alistair Darling has advised families to be vigilant and check their bank accounts, whilst Gordon Brown has issued a public apology. That’s all very well but this is a serious blunder and has raised serious questions and concerns about how civil service departments treat sensitive information. It is rumoured that a junior member of staff was responsible for the blunder. To add insult to injury, HM Revenue and Customs revealed that a further six discs containing recorded conversations between a member of a staff and a customer making a complaint had also gone missing.

As police began a futile search of a courier’s warehouse, it does make you wonder where this is all going to end. I am a strong supporter of Gordon Brown myself but the public will only tolerate so much. The security of 25 million British men, women and children has been seriously compromised and heads must roll for this. If this blunder had happened in private industry, we would have expected nothing less than the resignation of the M.D. or Chief Executive Officer. It’s time that government ministers had the courage to stand up and be counted and take some responsibility for their actions. There are so many unanswered questions here too, the main one being why a junior member of staff was given responsibility for discs containing such highly sensitive information. Surely a more senior person in the organisation should have been looking after them. It is up to Mr Brown to ensure that safeguards are put in place so that nothing like this can ever happen again in the future. Our P.M. owes it to every man, woman and child in this country to do nothing less. Meanwhile the search for the missing data discs goes on.

It's interesting to note that in the wake of this massive security breach, a survey revealed that many Britons don’t check their bank accounts or statements on a regular basis to spot identity fraud. The main reasons for this are they are afraid of seeing how far in the red they are or just forget to check due to lack of time. In fact only 14 per cent of Britons would notice if a £1,000 went missing from their account, whilst eight out of ten Britons wouldn’t notice. Frightening news and this plays right into the hands of fraudsters. You owe it to yourself and your security to always check bank and building society statements regularly. This is obviously now more important than ever, in light of recent events.

3 comments:

Sheila said...

This sounds serious. You are right about how lax we are about keeping tabs on our statements and such. We are just not as careful with monitoring our finances and records as we need to be. We can't count on our governments to always be on top of what they should be.

Dirty Butter said...

What a horrible disaster! For that many people to be affected by one security issue is just hard to imagine. It's amazing how careless agencies are with the information they have on everyone.

Naomi said...

In this day and age when identity theft is rife, I think we need to be vigilant and check our statements at all times Sheila. You just can't be too careful.

The public put their trust in these agencies to keep data safe Rosemary and in this instance, they have let everyone down badly. This security blunder is set to affect millions of people for many years to come.