UK Govt offers £20,000 for data worth £1.5bn

UK Govt offers £20,000 for data worth £1.5bn

Summary: The UK Government is offering up to £20,000 to anyone that finds Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs' lost CDs -- but critics say the information is worth £1.5bn on the black market.

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The UK Government is offering up to £20,000 to anyone that finds Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs' lost CDs -- but critics say the information is worth £1.5bn on the black market.

The search for the missing CDs has been led by a core team of 47 detectives and computer experts from the Metropolitan Police's Specialist and Economic Crime Command.

Now that the main search has failed to find the CDs, the Metropolitan Police has appealed to all staff at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the National Audit Office and the Treasury to check at work and "other locations" for the discs. HMRC courier TNT will also ask its staff to help with the search for the CDs.

Painful past episodes led to the creation of the Security Response Center, where teams take on the task of hunting bugs and keeping customers informed.

In addition to the police appeal, HMRC is now offering a reward of "up to £20,000" for information leading to the safe return of the CDs -- despite the fact that acting Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable last week claimed the data on the discs could be worth up to £1.5bn to criminals on the black market.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: "The enquiry has been particularly challenging due to how common compact discs are within offices, the number and size of the offices requiring searches and the number of organisations where the package may have travelled through."

Despite the potential black market value of the CDs far outweighing the award being offered, IBRS security analyst, James Turner said the offer is "a reasonable price to put on it".

"What it's worth depends entirely on who's got it and what they can do with it. This is all about the value of information -- in the wrong hands it could be worth more than £20,000 but for some guy who's handling and sorting mail, that's almost a year's salary. If someone sees an envelope lying around it will be worth picking up and checking," said Turner.

Metropolitan Police maintain there is no evidence the lost data has ended up in the hands of criminals.

Data-protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office has also revealed that a number of private and public-sector organisations have come forward and admitted problems with data security following the HMRC breach.

Liam Tung from ZDNet Australia conbtributed to this story.

Topics: Privacy, Hardware, Security

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