Passwords for UK government website found in pub carpark

Graham Cluley

British newspaper The Mail on Sunday has itself another scoop.

A member of the public found a 4GB USB thumb drive outside a outside a pub in Cannock, Staffordshire. The memory stick, which was passed to the newspaper, is alleged to contain confidential passwords for the Government Gateway website, and its source code.

The British public register on the Gateway website to access hundreds of government services including self-assessment tax returns, VAT returns, pension entitlements and child benefits. This year, 1.8 million people are said to have submitted their tax returns via the system for instance.

The memory stick was lost by an employee of Cannock-based Atos Origin, who manage the Gateway system on behalf of the UK government.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work…

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.