A data breach in HMRC could cost it £13 billion

If HMRC gets hacked, and its users’ data gets compromised, it could face compensation claims of more than £13 billion, a new report by digital authentication provider, MIRACL, suggests.

MIRACL asked 1,000 UK consumers about how much money they would ask as compensation if HMRC's data gets breached, and the average amount was £1,316. Knowing that some ten million people are expected to complete their tax returns online by the end of this month, that puts the total amount to more than £13 billion, or exactly £13,160,000,000.

“Getting their hands on all the personal and financial data involved in a tax return is a cyber criminal’s dream,” said Brian Spector, CEO at MIRACL. “Armed with an individual’s banking and financial history, their employment information, date of birth, address and login details, a criminal could carry out a sophisticated identity theft. For instance, they could potentially take out a mortgage in that person’s name.”

“This is why the Government is now implementing stronger security measures through its Gov.UK Verify portal, which offers highly secure multi-factor authentication to protect UK citizens when they disclose personal information online, such as completing a tax return. Consumers must do everything in their power to protect their personal and financial information online, and stay vigilant to the threats posed by phishing emails and other scams.”

MIRACL also suggests British citizens are underestimating the data breach matter. If a hacker managed to apply for a mortgage in the victim’s name the compensation claim would surge. The average value of a mortgage in the UK is £175,700, meaning Brits are underestimating the value of identity theft by £174,384.