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UK ID Card Scheme Data Deleted For £400K 149

Posted by timothy
from the mere-pocket-change dept.
DaveNJ1987 writes "It will cost the British government only £400,000 to destroy the data for its failed ID card initiative. The data compiled by the National Identity Register, which was scrapped last year by the coalition government, will be disposed of for the relatively small sum — in government figures — Home Office minister Damian Green confirmed."
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UK ID Card Scheme Data Deleted For £400K

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  • by dintech (998802) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:16AM (#34950194)

    I'll show them how to destroy it for half the price.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      What sort of guarentee can you offer that it will be adequately destroyed?

      This is the problem. They want to be absolutely sure that nobody can get hold of the disk drives and extract the data. At least that's what I'm guessing.

      Really they could just shoove the computers in some dark area of Whitehall and nobody will touch them.
      • by dintech (998802)

        I'm glad you asked. I was going to send all their kit to Nigeria [bbc.co.uk]. I'm sure that data will be safe there.

      • Re:Let me do it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:31AM (#34950260)

        They could lock them in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door that says "Beware of the Leopard", and eventually, someone will find them.

        My guarantee of data destruction - thermite. It's the only way to be sure.

        Well, ok, there are a lot of ways. You could extract the platters and scrub all the ferrite off with soapy water. You could just do a 1-pass wipe and it puts it beyond the capability of all known data recovery labs. There's those specialist industrial shredders designed just for disk drives that reduce them to a small heap of granules.

        But thermite is more fun.

        • Re:Let me do it (Score:4, Informative)

          by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday January 21, 2011 @07:03AM (#34950790) Homepage Journal

          More likely they'll just delegate it to a junior civil servant who'll get drunk after work and leave it in a taxi.

          Of course if you really want to destroy it just send it through the post, with a prominent label saying "FRAGILE".

          • by santax (1541065) on Friday January 21, 2011 @07:31AM (#34950954)
            That's how I got rid of the first wife! No need to murder anyone, just put her in a box, stamp Fragile and Alaska on it and you're good.
            • If they don't break her, they'll forget her in some godforsaken postal storage place for "misplaced" crates that are too heavy for a single postman to carry and since they cooperate usually as well as the average Popes...

        • ...This is government collected and stored data, it is not on one hard drive, or one system, it is scattered on multiple systems, backed up of many others, and parts are now in other databases, this is why it costs this much, most of this is search fees to find output where the data is from audit trails ....

        • by mangu (126918)

          There's those specialist industrial shredders designed just for disk drives that reduce them to a small heap of granules.

          A cheaper alternative would be a flowerpot and some charcoal [ntlworld.com]. Or they could send them to a commercial aluminium recycler to make it look more profesional.

        • by tom17 (659054)
          But how did you get down the stairs?
      • by Lazareth (1756336)

        I wonder how much it would cost them to get it placed at ground zero of a bomb test by their own military... Bonus points if it is nuclear.

      • Re:Let me do it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:01AM (#34950408) Homepage

        What sort of guarentee[sic] can you offer that it will be adequately destroyed?

        The same guarantee that everybody else offers - cast iron, 100% and fully contractually enforceable. At least enforceable against the tiny limited liability shell company with no assets that you've spun off to do the actual work.

        See, it's not how you do the work, it's how you do the business that matters.

        • KYC woud mean I would not do business with the shell, as it would be unable to meet the contract conditions.

          Proper KYC exposes those shell games very quickly, and you're simply removed from the list of approved providers.

      • by Apatharch (796324)
        I know it's not the done thing to actually read the article, so:

        The destruction will be carried out by a a CESG accredited and approved supplier, securely and in accordance with established secure destruction policy, procedures and guidelines, Green said. These include compliance with the HMS IA Standard No. 5-Secure Sanitisation of Protectively Marked Sensitive Information. Physical equipment holding the data will be degaussed and physically shredded.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Now with t25 and ultrafresh!

          It sounds like the usual government standard, either way over-do or be completely ineffective. There can be no middle ground.

          Why not just degauss the tapes and overwrite and then re-deploy the drives in other secure projects? If used in a RAID, it's actually desirable to use drives of varying ages and production lots anyway. As long as they are deployed to a secure project, they'll eventually get shredded when they have served for their entire useful life.

      • At least they are doing it properly rather than the "leave on train" strategy of recent years.

      • Really they could just shoove the computers in some dark area of Whitehall and nobody will touch them.

        "Shall I file it?"
        "Shall you file it? Shred it!"
        "Shred it?!"
        "No-one must ever be able to find it again!"
        "In that case, Minister, I think it's best I file it"

      • by Xest (935314)

        "What sort of guarentee can you offer that it will be adequately destroyed?"

        They can watch as he sets to work with his sledgehammer.

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)

      I'll show them how to destroy it for half the price.

      I'll do it for a quarter! Seriously, just give me all the paper files and the hard disks of any computers and I'll stick them in a skip and set the whole mess on fire. Could turn it into a street party celebrating the end of a sinister Orwellian initiative!

      • might want to throw some termite into the mix to be sure.
        I like the street party idea though.

      • by TheoGB (786170)
        'Orwellian'? Those poor French bastards! Oh the humanity!

        (FWIW my main disagreement was on the basis of costs and the security of your information so it's fine by me that it's gone.)
      • An Orwellian bonfire... I was expecting this to be held at the Parliament, somehow...

  • Third party (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:21AM (#34950214)
    I see they've hired some 3rd party firm to do it. That stuff, both kit and data will turn up in a year or so's time. Guaranteed. Laptops on eBay and the data sold to ID thieves.
    • Actually, no. I'm just going to run DBAN on the servers, single pass zeroes.

      My original quote was a 20 stack of writeable CDs and 2 days time... £500 max. They told me that wasn't the way bidding for government contracts work, so I said £400k.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Select All > Delete!

    JUST PRESS CTRL+A, then mash the delete key. Press enter to confirm. DONE.

    $20 please.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Shows what you know.

      You have to empty the Recycle Bin!

  • What they call coalition government we call bipartisanship, right?
    • Sort of. There's more than two sides to be agreeing or disagreeing in the UK and other European countries.

    • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:47AM (#34950680)

      What they call coalition government we call bipartisanship, right?

      No, it's a coalition government - rule by more than one party in the same cabinet/government. Quite common in Europe, unheard of in the states (though you do have cohabitation between a president and a congress or senate hostile to them quite often).

      A true coalition in the States would have (for example) Obama appointing Dick Cheney or Ron Paul as his vice-president, and working with him day to day and appointing advisers from other parties, but the systems are so different that it's hard to compare. Typically a coalition is made up of one large party and one or more small ones to make up the numbers, so in the strongly bipartisan system of the states, it's unlikely to happen.

      • sorry, for bipartisan in that last sentence, read bipartate...

      • by aslate (675607)

        I thought I'd add the caveat that whilst it's quite common in Europe it's highly unusual in the UK, with only a few instances of a coalition government forming and even fewer where it has actually lasted a substantial period of time.

        No idea whether the current one is going to ride the next year's worth of pain and come out the other side or not.

      • by I8TheWorm (645702) *

        Early on the Vice President job went to the Presidential candidate with the second most votes. Sadly, the Founders seem to have envisioned a political system with no parties, but they surfaced nonetheless. Having a President and a Vice President from different parties caused too many problems though so the system was changed. We're actually in our fifth party system, the current one starting in the 30s under the New Deal.

        Congress is made up of multiple parties, but voters here in the US tend to think the

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        See Australia for a good example of where coalition government is relatively common. In practice, Australia is thought of as having two major parties (like the US), but one of those parties is in fact two parties (Liberals and Nationals) in a coalition. Usually just referred to as 'the Coalition'. The other large party is actually a single party (Labor), although they kinda operate in an informal coalition with the Greens.

        I've lived in both Australia and the US for a long time and I must say the #1 flaw in

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday January 21, 2011 @07:53AM (#34951072) Journal

      No. To have a coalition government, you need more than two parties. It is one of the outcomes when no single party manages to gain an overall majority. In this case, the largest party was the Conservatives, the second largest was Labour, and the third-largest the Liberal Democrats, with a smattering of smaller parties and independents. The government was formed by a coalition of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The Prime Minister is the head of the Conservative Party, the Deputy Prime Minister is the head of the Liberal Democrat Party, and the cabinet is made up from members of both parties. Government policy is driven by both parties, although more by the Conservatives.

      Another alternative in this situation would be a minority government, where the Conservatives (with the largest bloc) attempted to form a government by themselves, but had to persuade members of other parties to vote with them or abstain for every issue they wanted passed. This is a bit fragile: last time it happened in the UK, it only lasted a few months before a vote of no confidence in the government passed, triggering a general election.

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Note that Australia currently has a minority government as described above. And by the slimmest of margins: 74 Liberal/National seats vs 76 'Labor + several random independents' seats.

        Essentially, if even a single Labor member (or Labor-aligned independent) votes against the party line on a single vote, the Government loses. A very fragile, and very uncommon situation. I will be surprised if it lasts the full 3 years until the next election is due.

      • Or a war. The National Government that formed for the Second World War was a coalition, for instance, but of all parties in the House.
  • I will be happy to light a large bonfire for half of the £400k quoted.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:14AM (#34950498)
    They need private contractors. Government officials are not capable of wiping their own arses, let alone data.
    • That's where all the taxpayer money goes. - half to set up the comittee to decide, then 7/16ths to find contractors to tender for the job. Then the last few thousand actually gets spent on the labour of destrying the data - which would fit on a few hard drives at most, it goes in the crusher, and job is done in ten minutes. Its about time that someone responsible did the job themselves, and saved £400,000 - you could even do it by destrying the data and preserving the media, so the drives can be recy
      • by malkavian (9512)

        Interesting. This is based on what personal experience of yours? And what role did you have in the plan?
        I can guarantee you that for something of this scale and sensitivity, £400k is a drop in the ocean.
        I'm actually pretty impressed with that figure.

      • by malkavian (9512)

        For the comment on 'fit on a few hard drives at most', do a quick capacity plan.
        This was intended to scale for about 60 million people. With all the data stored (pictures, other biometrics, text etc), think about 1 meg per person (probably more with other things like audit trails, update trails, historical info etc.).
        Gives you about 60,000 GB of data. Add in indexes (can be close to data sizes) for about 1.2 PB.
        Add in redo log sizes, backup sizes etc and you're definitely into the several PB range.
        Now the

        • by Arlet (29997)

          Gives you about 60,000 GB of data. Add in indexes (can be close to data sizes) for about 1.2 PB

          2 times 60,000 GB is only 0.12 PB.

        • by sjames (1099)

          1000GB = 1TB, NOT 1 PB!

          So about 60 TB for the raw data and lets go nutz and say the audit trails quadruple it to 240 TB.

          That is thousands of 70GB drives (based on the principle that teeny over-priced SCSI drives are commonly used in this application for some reason when enterprise grade SAS drives in the 500GB range would work fine).

          If you must actually destroy them, the pricing to do so is reasonable. However, a secure wipe will also destroy the data. If the drives are then re-deployed in other secure proj

    • by malkavian (9512)

      Interesting. Come from pretty hefty positions in the private sector (where I was deemed more than sufficient to do what I do), and now work in the NHS (ethical/personal reasons), I can assure you there are a goodly many people who are very capable (some who hands down beat people I've met in the private sector) in the Governmental arena.
      Yes, there are some "dead weight" ones. But that happens anywhere with strong union presence.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Yes, there are some "dead weight" ones. But that happens anywhere with strong union presence.

        In non-union shops, the dead weight doesn't go away, it just tends to fail up or becomes part of someone's headcount in middle management turf wars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      > They need private contractors. Government officials are not capable of wiping their own arses, let alone data.
      Who let you out of the Daily Mail comments section?

    • They need private contractors to do this so when the data turns up later they can blame the contractor ....

  • I get reimbursed by the customer for the data anyway.

    C'mon, you don't think that whoever does it for these peanuts isn't gonna do that too, do you?

  • Wasn't there another way to destroy the data?

    (Taking it out to a field and sledgehammering it?)

  • Did anyone think of just taking a couple of 50Gallons oil drums fill them with gas and shredded old tires put the drives in them and let these burn for a while; I realized that this does not sit well with many people due to the fact that it's bad for the environment. The other solution just melt all the data drives down along with a bunch of steels.

  • I don't have the breakdown but (and I may be giving too much benefit of the doubt) the £400k should cover far more than pressing delete on a database. There's destroying the storage medium, security to make sure nobody's walking out with data... Not forgetting the costs of actually dismantling equipment, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are significant figures for an early property lease termination penalty, dilapidations and staff redundancies.

    To digress a little, no it is not uncommon for staff

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