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Innovation

Government database security breached

Confidential records at a number of central government departments have been compromised
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Written by Andy McCue on

Computer security breaches at a number of central government departments in the last year have led to confidential database records being compromised.

Two of the departments that have been hit by security breaches include the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and the Department for Transport (DfT).

The DfT has admitted that eight security breaches of databases controlled by the department and its agencies have been committed by the department's staff over the last five years, resulting in a total of 96 records being compromised. In 2006 alone, two breaches have occurred with 40 records being compromised.

But transport minister Gillian Merron said there have been "no confirmed security breaches from external sources".

DCA minister Vera Baird also confirmed an incident took place in her department in July this year — although it was the first since 2001 — and that it is still under investigation.

She said in response to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson: "The information was compromised when IT equipment was stolen from departmental accommodation."

A spokeswoman for the DCA told ZDNet UK's siter site, silicon.com: "The DCA is conducting an investigation with the police and those enquiries are still ongoing."

The Department for Education and Skills said it has detected only one case of computer hacking over the past five years, which happened in 2005. It did not say how many records had been compromised by that breach.

Other government departments that have claimed there have been no security breaches of their databases over the past five years include the Cabinet Office; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Department for International Development; and the Treasury.

No-one at the DfT was available for comment.

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