HMRC data hacking could cost £13bn in damages

29th January 2016

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) would face potential compensation claims totalling £13 billion in the event their users’ data is compromised by hackers, according to digital authentication provider, MIRACL.

With just hours until the deadline for self-assessment tax returns for the 2014-15 financial year, this story raises questions about the robustness of HMRC’s digital tax infrastructure with thousands of UK taxpayers logging on this week in a bid to get their tax liabilities in order.

MIRACL quizzed 1,000 UK consumers about how much money they would demand as compensation for an HMRC security breach; resulting in a potentially dangerous leak of personal data into the hands of cyber hackers.

The average compensation figure totalled £1,316, and with as many as ten million taxpayers due to complete their tax returns online by the end of the month, that would put the total compensation figure at a little over £13 billion (£13,160,000,000).

Brian Spector, CEO, MIRACL, said: “Getting their hands on all the personal and financial data involved in a tax return is a cyber criminal’s dream.

“Armed with an individual’s banking and financial history, their employment information, date of birth, address and login details, a criminal could carry out a sophisticated identity theft. For instance, they could potentially take out a mortgage in that person’s name.

“This is why the Government is now implementing stronger security measures through its Gov.UK Verify portal, which offers highly secure multi-factor authentication to protect UK citizens when they disclose personal information online, such as completing a tax return.

“Consumers must do everything in their power to protect their personal and financial information online, and stay vigilant to the threats posed by phishing emails and other scams.”

If you’re leaving it until this weekend to file your 2014-15 tax return, make sure you pay the tax you owe by 31st January at the latest. HMRC will accept payments made on 31st January even if it does not physically reach their accounts for 2-4 working days; so there’s no excuse not to get your tax liabilities in order.

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