The great HMRC CD-Rom fiasco

I have to admit that even this cynical hack's jaw nearly fell through the floor yesterday lunchtime when watching the lunchtime news, as news broke about the loss of two CD-ROMs containing the details of the 25 million adults and children in the UK claiming child benefit.

By my calculation, that means there are around 7 to 8 million bank accounts that are ripe for harvesting if the data gets into the wrong hands.

Which, I'm sad to say, is quite likely if the disks are discovered outside of HMRC's offices.

It's difficult to see what the banks can do to stop any identify theft arising as a result of this fiasco, short of re-issuing new account numbers etc., to anyone receiving child benefit into their bank or building society account.

I suspect that Alistair Darling will get the `move over Darling' request from El Gordo in the near future, as his position is now untenable as a result of this and the Northern Crock fiasco.

The IT security procedural failure at HMRC's North-Eastern data centre is matched only by the failure of the government to move swiftly and notify the banks about the data loss.

In the longer term, I suspect the HMRC fiasco will accelerate the development of an ultra-secure data network into which all government agencies share their information.

It's the only way forward, especially when you have dweebs posting 15 million people's accounts on two CD-ROMs in TNT's businessmail service.

Did I ever tell you about the time that TNT `lost' a prototype Internet set top box I was reviewing in the mid-1990s?

TNT managed to lose the system for two weeks, but found it within hours when I pointed out it was worth several grand as the only hand-built prototype in existence...