Inbox: Data breaches, tech wages, ePassport woes

"If you offer training, you'll be fighting the applicants off with the proverbial stick..."
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"If you offer training, you'll be fighting the applicants off with the proverbial stick..."

The weekly Inbox column collects the best and most thought provoking of the reader comments silicon.com receives each week.
At the end of last week the Home Office announced its latest blunder concerning the public's personal data. Unsurprisingly silicon.com readers had a few comments to make on the breach. IT skills were under the spotlight again, this time the focus was on offshoring, training and techies' wallets. Last, silicon.com's resident columnist Peter Cochrane got readers reaching for their keyboards over the government's ePassport scheme.

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Prisoner data breach firm paid £100m
The management consultancy firm at the centre of the latest government data breach storm has been paid almost £100m over three years for its services by the Home Office and its agencies.

On PA consulting...
PA Consulting are also engaged by the Home Office on the Interception Modernisation Programme which is likely to introduce a government controlled centralised database of all communications data records for our nation of suspects.
Anonymous, London

"Identity theft sponsored by G Brown"
Yet another very good reason to join No2ID and absolutely refuse to provide any information to do with ID cards, which will only be: 'Identity theft sponsored by G Brown'.
RM, London

Confidence drain
Quote: "This will destroy any grain of confidence the public still have in this white elephant and reinforce why it could endanger - rather than strengthen - our security."

I hope so as I don't really want to go to prison for not having an ID card…
Karen Challinor, UK

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"Shambolic" security behind Home Office data breach
Read security experts opinions on the latest Home Office blunder here…
See readers' responses to this story below:

Every government agency that keeps sensitive data should have a robust policy in place to keep it safe. If breaches occur then if the policy is found wanting (or completely lacking) then the most senior people should be held accountable. Fines, demotion, loss of job...
Alistair Thomas, Worcs, UK

Perhaps care of data would improve if directors of companies involved in breaches and politicians had to divulge the same information about themselves whenever a loss of data was discovered in their company or government department?
Anonymous, UK

Offshoring sends techies' wages up
Mid-tier IT staff are seeing their wages take an upward tangent, thanks to a skills shortage spawned by offshoring and a lack of students opting for IT courses.

Training, training, training
…and STILL the employers don't invest in training!

What's wrong with training a physics/history/media studies graduate? What's wrong with cross-training the ample population of techies that are sitting on the shelf due to ageist employment practices?

If you offer training, you'll be fighting the applicants off with the proverbial stick. Expect them to turn up with all the skills you'll ever need, expect to get your wallet out...
Jaded Techie, London

Leapfrogging ladders
The cynic in me thinks that a team that is not trained cannot find jobs elsewhere: a team that has external qualifications might leave or want pay rises. I have been paying for my own recertification every two years, taking holiday to sit the exams. I am now the Team Leader in Technical Support, leapfrogging over uncertified time-servers.
Anonymous, Hampshire

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Peter Cochrane's Blog: Bordering on stupidity
What could be easier? Take that old paper passport and add some electronics to turn it into a super-secure means of ID and certification.

It is a mystery to me why RFID was ever brought into the ePassport programme. The last thing a passport should do is transmit information. If a chip was necessary (and I'm not convinced about that, either), then it should have been contact only - at least the passport would have to be stolen, and therefore missed by the owner, in order to get the info.
Jeremy Wickins, Sheffield

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Two fallacies about ePassports as touted by politicians:

  1. They are secure no one can break the encryption and read the contents
  2. Because they have a chip the ePassport is not forgeable and useless to criminals

Wrong. The data encryption method is known and a huge pile of blank, genuine ePassports went missing recently, anyone else believe they aren't being programmed as we speak? And even then what's to stop a sufficiently technically literate criminal group from developing their own chip that behaves in much the same way and sticking these in their own forged passports?
Karen Challinor, UK

Crossed wires
This is a clear case of a government requirement being misinterpreted and being met by varying technical solutions. I should imagine that ministers around the world have set standards without really knowing or caring about the intricacies of a global scheme.

Results are required, and fast, so they usually settle for reading some of the consultancy hype and listening to a few well chosen arguments from someone who has dealt with this kind of thing before. After that, things simply get nodded through.
Radical Meldrew, Suburbs

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