Huge amounts of UK data at risk of being stolen from aging Whitehall computer systems

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Outdated tech used in His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) IT systems could put the UK at risk of a huge data breach if not updated, HMRC has warned.

As per its privacy policy, HMRC stores data such as; name, title, addresses, telephone numbers, and personal email addresses; gender; marital status and dependents; National; Insurance number; bank account details; information about your income; information about your employment; information about your business activities; information about your domestic and business properties; passport and driving license information.

In an attack or malfunction, all of this data could be put at risk. But it's not just hackers that could cause the system to crumble, as aging IT infrastructure which is no longer supported or updated is at a higher risk of technical failure the longer it is used.

Lack of IT security puts everyone at risk

Such an attack would have huge ramifications for UK businesses, and the risk of an attack will continue to increase if IT systems are not updated.

Russia, China, and North Korea could be among those looking to target UK computer systems to steal data and damage the economy, alongside other cyber criminals and organizations.

The cost of upgrading such a monolithic system as Whitehall’s IT infrastructure would be a huge investment likely paid for by the taxpayer, although there are no plans laid down yet for such a renovation.

Speaking to The Independent, Conservative MP Harriet Baldwin, chair of parliament’s Treasury committee said “It is concerning that our taxation systems, which support our key public services, could potentially be harmed permanently because of out-of-date IT equipment. I am sure the committee will seek answers on this issue during our regular scrutiny sessions with HMRC.”

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict has been writing about security issues for close to 5 years, at first covering geopolitics and international relations while at the University of Buckingham. During this time he studied BA Politics with Journalism, for which he received a second-class honours (upper division). Benedict then continued his studies at a postgraduate level and achieved a distinction in MA Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy. Benedict transitioned his security interests towards cybersecurity upon joining TechRadar Pro as a Staff Writer, focussing on state-sponsored threat actors, malware, social engineering, and national security. Benedict is also an expert on B2B security products, including firewalls, antivirus, endpoint security, and password management.