A DATA security expert says the loss of discs containing 25m child benefit records could have massive implications.
Peter Hood, a senior lecturer in secure and forensic computing at Huddersfield University, believes the Government has breached security on a unprecedented scale.
The lecturer, who teaches students about computer security, also questioned the Government’s computer system.
Mr Hood said: “It seems to me a huge breach of security on their part.
“To have names, addresses, date of births and bank details of millions of people lost poses a very big risk.
“The worrying thing is if it gets into the wrong hands it could have massive implications, so let’s hope that isn’t the case.
“This is live and it is happening now and it is a chance to educate people on the possible risks in the hope it doesn’t happen again.”
The Government announced on Tuesday that two discs containing records for the 25m people who claim child benefit has gone missing.
The entire database was sent by a junior official from Revenue and Customs in Newcastle to the audit office in London through courier TNT on October 18.
But it had not arrived at their final destination when the alarm was raised on November 8.
Mr Hood added: “We don’t know how the disc is stored, whether the information is easily accessible or if it is encrypted, but the worrying point is that security has been breached in the first place.
“These are two Government bodies and I would presume they had the same or similar computer system, so why did they need to transfer the data in this way in the first instance?
“Why don’t they have a secure computer network to get data from? It would save putting it in the post and posing a risk.
“The Data Protection Act, which is a law, is there for us all, including the Government, and it is there for a purpose, to protect us.
“Let’s hope this never happens again.”