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News

HMRC data loss consequences less with retail fraud prevention in place.

The 3rd Man : 21 November, 2007  (Technical Article)
The Third Man comments on the extent of the vulnerability exposed by the recent data loss by Revenue and Customs, re-assuring that with adequate retail protection in place, point of use fraud is unlikely.
News that the details of some 25,000,000 Britons have gone astray in the post due to an error will come as a massive concern to people whose personal data is now in danger of being used fraudulently. Widely reported this morning, confidential information on two CDs that were not encrypted were posted by an employee at the HM Revenue & Customs office in Washington, Tyne & Wear. The CDs subsequently disappeared and have not been traced.

Once again it highlights that despite efforts to ensure that such highly sensitive data is handled securely, a simple mistake can cause widespread national panic and alarm.

Paul Simms, CEO of the 3rd Man, a fraud protection specialist, said: "The extent to which it causes problems largely depends on where the CDs turn up. If they are already below several feet of rubbish then it's unlikely to cause any difficulties, of course. On the other hand, if there were to end up in the hands of organised criminals, this poses serious issues but only to a certain degree.

"There is concern that fraudsters would use the information to attack bank accounts and obtain credit card details to steal from other third parties such as retailers.

"The majority of retailers are well aware of the dangers of fraud, and have been for some time, but it's no longer a massive problem for those who already protect themselves through monitoring schemes. So even if your details have been obtained, the chances are that fraudulent activity will be monitored and prevented, especially if a retailer is part of a monitoring scheme such as SuperSearch.

"The most alarming thing in all of this is that such personal information is available to download from a PC onto a disk. This won't be the last time this happens, I'm sure, so it's important that we're able to deal with the consequences of such idiocy and compromises in security, as well as those which are intended to be fraudulent."

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