Plenty more to come apparently:
MPs have been warned further revelations of data security breaches are likely in the wake of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data blunder.
Information commissioner Richard Thomas said yesterday a string of private and public sector organisations have told him in recent weeks they have had problems with lost data.
Meanwhile we hear that the DWP recently wrote to all local authorities advising them to password-protect Housing Benefit data, regularly copied on to CD-Roms and sent by courier to Newcastle. What data are we talking about? It includes:
– NI Number
– Date of birth
– Ages of children
– Employment and housing status
– Any other benefits applied for/received
– Details of income
– Whether they have a partner
– Whether they are currently in prison
– Whether they have been referred to fraud investigators
The password that would allegedly guard this data was sent to every local authority in an unsecured, unencrypted email. It was the same password for each LA, and they were advised that they should use it on each occasion (pdf) that they submitted their Housing Benefit return.
The more that emerges about government data protection and security practices, the stronger the image grows of a bunch of rookie lab technicians at Porton Down, idly taking the rubber bungs out of stored test-tubes.