Computerised system failures

DWP struggles to uncover cause of public data breach
A Whitehall department that is to supply some of the key technology for the ID cards scheme is trying to find out how its systems and processes allowed confidential information on up to 26,000 people to be compromised. More than a week after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) discovered that it had accidentally sent bank, national insurance and personal details to the wrong people, it was unable to say why it happened. "The investigation is ongoing," said a spokesman.

Computer Weekly, 20 February 2007

Credit data stolen at Indian call centres
Credit card data, along with passport and driving licence numbers, are being stolen from call centres in India and sold to the highest bidder, an investigation has found. Middlemen are offering bulk packages of tens of thousands of credit card numbers for sale. They even have access to taped telephone conversations in which British customers disclose sensitive security information to call centre staff.

The Sunday Times, 8 October 2006

Benefit cheats prosper as 250,000 records are lost
disarray because the records of nearly 250,000 claimants — who are receiving a total of £730 million a year — have been lost ... The Department for Work and Pensions has mislaid the case details of 222,120 people awarded disability living allowance, a benefit that ministers suspect is open to abuse. Since the records were lost — during a transfer to a new computer system in the 1990s — the claimants involved have received a total of £9 billion.

The Times, 7 October 2006

Major incidents hit NHS national systems
More than 110 "major incidents" have hit hospitals across England in the past four months, after parts of the health service went live with systems supplied under the £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in the NHS. Many of the incidents, which have been reported by Connecting for Health, the body that oversees the NPfIT, involve the failure of ­x-ray retrieval hardware and software, known as Pacs (picture archiving and communications systems) which allow clinicians to view digitised x-rays on screen. When these systems fail, it can stop doctors viewing x-rays on screens in wards and operating theatres. The major incidents also involve hospital patient administration systems, which hold patient details such as appointments and planned treatments.

Computer Weekly, 19 September 2006

Child Support Agency: a history of IT failure
IT failures help speed demise of Child Support Agency
The crisis-ridden Child Support Agency (CSA) has a history of IT failure. It was not just the technology that caused difficulty but the management of its introduction ... what went wrong and what lessons can be learnt from one of the most disastrous government IT implementations. CSA's systems were given green light despite 52 critical defects ...

The report confirmed Hutton’s earlier admission that the CSA had “failed” and was not fit for purpose. Around £3.5bn in child maintenance payments are still outstanding. The NAO revealed that the Treasury’s Office of Government Commerce secretly agreed that deployment of a new £456m IT system, built by EDS, should go ahead, despite known critical defects ...

It highlighted a lack of transparency, poor planning, absence of management information and a breakdown in communication with its IT contractors as contributing to the catastrophic implementation of the new IT system in 2003 ...

It also emerged last year that hundreds of thousands of cases held on an old IT system were still waiting to be transferred, two years after the new EDS system went live. And a report commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions found that poorly paid, demoralised staff entered false information into systems in a bid to bypass software controls, deleted cases and stockpiled claims – sometimes for years.

Computer Weekly, 24 July 2006

Online passport applications halted
5,000 people are kept waiting after an internet system broke down just three weeks after its launch A BACKLOG of 5,000 passport applications has built up after serious problems developed with a computer system only weeks after the inception of a new online service. The Home Office agency in charge of issuing the travel documents has now withdrawn the online application service because of mounting difficulties in issuing passports. Some applicants have been asked to resubmit passport applications on paper and others have had application fees and other costs refunded because of the problems. Staff are working longer hours at the Identity and Passport Service in Newport, South Wales, to tackle the backlog.

The Times, 11 July 2006

Millions lost in organised tax credit frauds
Forty organised tax credit frauds involving the theft of thousands of identities and worth at least £5 million are being investigated by Revenue and Customs inspectors, it was disclosed yesterday. This is the latest problem to hamper Gordon Brown's beleaguered tax credit scheme, which was criticised this week by an influential committee of MPs after it overpaid £4 billion to claimants in two years.

The Daily Telegraph, 9 June 2006

Does MOT system fail comms test?
The launch of the computerised MOT system has been marred by complaints from the motor industry that they have been left in the dark over system failures. Built by Siemens Business Services as part of a private finance initiative, the £220m computerised testing system allows garage staff to record MOT results on terminals linked to a central mainframe ... two partial collapses of the system in two weeks in March had left many MOT testing stations unable to perform tests, causing considerable loss to their businesses and inconvenience to their customers.

Computer Weekly, 11 April 2006

Crash halts police print checks
Police forces in England and Wales could not access national fingerprint records for up to a week because of a computer failure, it has emerged. The National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (Nafis) broke down last week after a database crash.

BBC News, 3 December 2004

Follow-up Review of the Status of IDENT/IAFIS Integration
IDENT is the US-VISIT fingerprint database, IAFIS is the FBI fingerprint database, the review was performed by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), part of the US Deportment of Justice

IAFIS availability. Our review of system availability data from November 2003 through April 2004 found that IAFIS did not meet its requirement that the entire system be available 99 percent of the time. During that six-month period, the system was available 96.3 percent of the time. On 70 occasions, (including scheduled and unscheduled outages), downtime lasted 30 minutes or more and, in some cases, hours at a time. During these outages, FBI responses to DHS fingerprint search requests were not timely and resulted in aliens’ fingerprints not being checked against IAFIS. Further, IAFIS users were not always notified of system outages. The excessive downtime occurred because there is no backup system that can continue to process transactions to completion when IAFIS or its components are taken out of service for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. The FBI is currently working to improve IAFIS availability and provide more timely notification to customers when the system is unavailable.

OIG, December 2004

More .NET Passport security doubts raised
Another security vulnerability has been discovered in Microsoft's widely used .NET Passport online verification system. This is the second problem with .NET Passport in just two months, and it's causing even more people to rethink the wisdom of using the Microsoft identity management service.

ZDNet, 14 July 2003

Credit card database hacked
A computer hacker has gained access to more than 5 million Visa and Mastercard credit card accounts in the US.

BBC News, 18 February 2003

Government steps up training fraud probe
IT Management HR & Skills Government steps up training fraud probe Wednesday 12 February 2003 The Government has closed down its Individual Learning Account (ILA) scheme two weeks ahead of schedule and launched a major fraud investigation. The Department for Education and Skills (DFES) called in police to investigate alleged fraud and theft involving ILAs after a tip off last week from a provider. The ILA programme was to have been suspended from 7 December after ministers admitted the whole scheme had been open to fraud and mis-selling. The DFES is investigating 270 training providers; and 30 people have been arrested following complaints made by the public to trading standards organisations across the UK.

Computer Weekly, 12 February 2003

UK Politics Passport fiasco cost taxpayers £12m
Last summer's shambles at the Passport Agency cost the taxpayer more than £12m and forced hundreds of people to cancel their holidays. The National Audit Office says at least 500 holidaymakers missed their departure dates, following problems with a new computer system, which left the agency unable to issue passports on time. Umbrellas for people waiting in the rain cost £16,000, according to the NAO. Total compensation currently amounts to £161,000 but is likely to rise further. A futher £6m was spent on staff overtime. The problem arose, says the NAO, because management failed to check a new Siemens computer system properly before it was introduced, and failed to make proper contingency plans.

BBC News, 27 October 1999

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