Depts reveal data losses and breaches

August 18, 2008

Resource accounts for two departments revealed around 62,000 people were affected by them.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have admitted in their resource accounts for 2007/08 a number of data breaches and losses potentially affecting up to 62,000 people.

In its biggest data breach, the MoJ reported that discs containing 27,000 supplier records, including supplier name, address and some cases bank details, were in the possession of a contractor to the ministry. The resource accounts said no notifications steps were taken and none of the data was lost or stolen. Some examples were shown to a newspaper, however all the data was subsequently recovered or destroyed.

Data losses reported by the MoJ included a laptop that contained data on 14,000 fine defaulters. The data included names, dates of birth, address, offence and in a fifth of cases national insurance numbers. The laptop was stolen within secured government premises and described as inadequately protected by the report.

In November 2007, the MoJ also reported a loss of paper documents that involved data on 3,648 people including their alleged offences.

The DWP's resource accounts said its biggest breach was the retention of two discs by a contractor. The discs contained the data of 9,000 people and forced the department to notify law enforcement. The department also suffered two other incidents. One in July 2007 that potentially affected 7,800 and one in January when papers with data on 45 people were lost.

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