Tag Archives: HMRC

HMRC Commits to the G-Cloud

Beginning this Autumn HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will commence migration of their data from locally stored offices to a hosted central government storage deposit in the G-Cloud. This is a big move for any large government department and it shows that the public sector is warming to what the cloud has to offer.

The G-Cloud is the government initiative setup to provide the public sector with a pool of approved private companies with whom they can work as well as providing businesses with a reference to their reliability and standards when trying to bring in public sector customers. The pool of approved providers also improves procurement times for the public sector as it cuts out a lot of the initial groundwork searching for potential providers during a tender, for example.

HMRC have said that their hosted storage service would be “cheaper, more secure and greener” as well as helping it to improve efficiency. As far as the Government is concerned, efficiency is a key issue and it hopes the G-Cloud will shine a light on reputable providers who can deliver good services for relatively low cost. For many public sector organisations, data growth is a problem with it becoming more and more difficult to manage which can make it difficult for the public sector to provide the services that the public require.

Phil Pavitt, CIO of HMRC estimated the annual saving to be 1 million. The deal will also push Revenue & Customs in the direction of the “smarter, more innovative solutions” that are obtainable through the cloud. Value for money is always an issue for organisations, particularly those in the public sector who are having to tighten their belts under austerity measures, so any savings will no doubt benefit HMRC in the long term.

Cloud services, of which there are many, e.g. infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS), can benefit many different types and size of business. The main benefit, in terms of cost, is the minimal investment required by the customer, something which is important for all businesses regardless of size.

For small businesses who do not have the capital to invest in expensive hardware or employ extra staff, cloud services allow SMBs to use or offer something that before would only have been possible for large companies. The minimal investment can also benefit a company wishing to use a service on a small scale before adopting it fully if they are not sure of the benefits.

At the other end of the scale, large businesses may be attracted to the cloud by a MSP with a good reputation as it gives them the assurance that a business critical function will be maintained by an experienced provider. This puts to rest the concern that staff may not be properly trained or have sufficient experience to deal with a particular area, which can cause headaches for managers.

If other big Government departments also follow suit G-Cloud could quickly become an extremely helpful tool for both businesses, who will benefit from the leads it produces, and the public sector, who will be able to spend more of their money on services to the public.

Data distribution catastrophe befalls HMRC

The Inland Revenue has been the subject of considerable criticism after it revealed another embarrassing data loss incident, having wrongly posted personal financial information of 50,000 citizens to the wrong addresses.

Information relating to the pay and bank details of other people was distributed to a vast and varied audience in the post, although officials at HMRC claim that it would be unlikely for identity theft to occur as a result of this error.

A resident in an area of Greater Manchester has reported that in an annual statement from HMRC, she not only received information relating to her next door neighbour’s pay, but also details of the bank account into which it is deposited, together with the banking details of a further third party not directly known her.

A similar error occurred three years ago, with 80,000 individuals affected in an almost identical manner. HMRC cited an error with the printing process as the culprit in this previous case, but privacy campaigners are particularly unhappy with the recurrence of such an event and with the apparent lack of accountability of the government officials behind it.

Spokespeople for the TaxPayers’ Alliance and data privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch both condemned this latest data loss incident, saying that a lack of appreciation for the responsibility and security required to properly protect personal data was still endemic in many public and private organisations. Some are also convinced that identity theft and fraud could easily occur as a result of this latest error.

Critics have pointed out that the news of this incident came in tandem with the new coalition government’s plan to scrap the ID Cards scheme which the outgoing Labour government had been planning to implement across the country.

Apologies have been sent out to the 50,000 affected parties in this case and HMRC is maintaining that its own investigation suggests that identity theft is unlikely to affect those whose data has been incorrectly distributed.

This incident shows that such incidents can occur in the largest organisations if proper care and attention is not paid to the proper checks, regulations and practices designed to protect personal information and prevent data loss.

Data can be secured with the right education

With data loss incidents impacting on the lives of many people and businesses, the authorities are trying to take steps to minimise risks in the future. In a statement, the head of information assurance, Michael Gough claimed that with correct security and the right education data loss could be prevented.

Gough, who is also overlooking a security training programme in EDS, said that data loss problems would continue due to the increase in use of removable media devices. While addressing the public, he said that people need to know when to use removable media and why it is important to use data encryption when moving a high capacity of data to ensure no data risks are taken.

He also said that it was not security that was the problem, but human vulnerability was at the heart of data loss incidents. The problem can be solved by education and security development. Gough used the HMRC incident of copying data onto CDs and questioned why they were not protected when they were being moved.

The many security breaches have caused concern amongst the general public and constant reminders are now being sent to companies and agencies who handle sensitive client information. The use of better data security methods like an offsite data backup are being encouraged to ensure sensitive data is encrypted and protected at all times.

Avoid data loss – use online data backup

Have you ever lost your vital data? If yes, then you are not alone. There have been several cases of data loss worldwide. Many people have lost their sensitive data either by system failure, hard disk crash, device malfunctioning, manual mistakes or thefts. According to the latest statistics, 280 million people worldwide have lost crucial data in the past three years.

There have been some similar cases in the UK Ministry of Defence, HMRC, private organisations and more, and individuals have lost their data. Data loss can have a devastating effect on many large companies as their whole data base could be lost.

On average, 34 data loss incidents are reported every month. Recently the UK Government faced a high profile incident of data loss in which they lost details of about 84,000 prisoners which was contained inside a memory stick. Also bank details of 25 million citizens of the UK were lost earlier this year. Data loss is a threat to big organisations as well as to individuals.

To avoid such incidences in future an online data backup and online data storage service can prove to be very helpful. It is a convenient way to store data properly. Your data is backed up on a server located offsite. Encryption techniques are used to backup this data, thus making it more secure.

UK government in chaos after data loss

Data loss is one of the major problems faced by many organisations worldwide. Legislators in the UK have misplaced disks that contained personal information of 25 million taxpayers. Also there have been several cases reported of data loss in which many top organisations have lost their crucial data.

Recently HMRC also lost the entire database that contained child benefits receipts. According to the information, the data that was lost was protected by a password but it was not in an encrypted form. According to another report, any white collared criminal could easily break these files in seconds. This can cause a major threat to the organisation.

According to the British press there have been three major leaks in HMRC in the past three months. A laptop which had data about 2,000 investors was stolen. Officers also revealed that 41 laptops have been stolen in the past 12 months in HMRC. Also a CD with details of 15,000 Standard Life customers was lost by an agency.

It creates a bad impression and eventually people start losing their faith in the organisation. To secure your data properly, an online data backup service can help a lot. Online data backup is a quick and effective way to store your data efficiently.

Online data backups can help avoid another HMRC incident

The HMRC incident was one of the biggest data breaches ever witnessed. The unfortunate data loss incident occurred around this time last year and ever since there have been many cases of data loss popping up ever so frequently. HMRC admitted to losing two discs that contained records of over 20 million people.

It was also made known that the information was unencrypted and the incident led to the resignation of the head of HMRC, Paul Gray. Since this data loss incident surfaced, there have been many more such cases and these events are liable to put many people at risk. Very soon the public may even lose faith in government agencies, if they have not already.

What is surprising about these occurrences is that even with the availability of technology to secure data, no one wants to use it. The various online and off site data backups can greatly reduce data loss events and people should be made aware of this. The whole purpose of online data backup is to safeguard important information so that people are not subjected to problems in the event of data thefts or loss. Whether it is a company or a government agency, online data backups can protect data and ensure business continuity.

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