Well, it had to happen, and so here you have it - those mislaid HMRC discs going for a song down at eBay: Screen grab of eBay "HMRC discs" auction Since we have no doubt the powers that be down at the world's fave tat bazaar will move rather more quickly to remove this auction than they do to act on iffy vendors, here's the …
I imagine that the data has one of those fiendishly difficult to crack Excel passwords on it. We can all sleep easily.
haha Nice one, I hope they made another ebay account to do otherwise they might find a swat team out side :)
I love the question and answer bit
copied here just incase ebay remove it
Q: Would you consider part exchange for these discs? I'm afraid I can't offer much in the way of cash as my future employment status looks a bit grim at present, but my boss Gordy can offer you a peerage or even free school dinners for life. Thanks NOTE TO SECRETARY: PLEASE ENSURE MY REAL NAME DOES NOT APPEAR ON THIS EMAIL WHEN SENDING, THANKS. ALISTAIR
A: As everyone's employment prospects are as dismal as yours, you argument carries little weight. However, the peerage is tempting. Please feel free to phone me to discuss this.
That is all.
Who ever did this...
is an absolute legend - much better than both the "twin Towers (some assembly required)" and "Stannah Stairlift (one careful lady owner)" auctions we've seen over the last few years.
Excel - nah
Maximum data you can fit in one worksheet is 65536x65536 (I doubt HMRC know how to use multiple worksheets).
My guess is this was an Access database ....
Made us all laugh in the office. Sheer genius.
Nah, Excel up to 2008 was 65536 * 256. Excel 2008 allows 1048576 rows, which seems a bit pathetic to me. I doubt the govt has moved to 2008 yet.
post and packing
.... disks will be sent by TNT courier. Please allow several weeks before reporting them lost
I felt obliged to ask him if he could post to LAGOS, NIGERIA and could one pay by cheque.......
Regardless of the data format (and Excel or CSV both sound likely) I think its likely to be a passworded and unencrypted ZIP archive - possibly spanning both disks. Spanning, because chopping such a large file in half is probably beyond the muppet that made it.
Why zipped? If both disks are full (650 MB each) thats an average of only 52 bytes per entry.
As a comparison, my name, address, NHS no and DOB in CSV format is just over 80 bytes. Add bank details (Bank name, sort code, account number) and it hits 120 bytes. So, to get 25 M sets of typical personal details onto two CDs requires compression.
the password is...
probably one of the following:
@ Anonymous Coward (Excel - nah)
Actually, Excel can only hold 65536 x 256 (Well 2003 anyway)
Big Picture Players Bletchley Boffin ControlLed, Darling .... ?
Hmmmm. Ye Wily Olde Fox Uniting Artists for AIKnightly Sky?
A Bare Bear Question for Rupert to Seed in Deed, indeed. AI Virtual PlaySubStation Offered Again. Run In with One Very Careful Owner ....... Fastidious in ITs Care.
Are they called TNT because of the extensive damage to your career caused when their service blows up in your face?
...over £4,500,100.00 required :)
post and hacking
has anybody tried typing "password" to gain access to the database.
All this talk of CDs intrigues me...
...I can't help wondering if they were actually DVD-Rs, and some incompentent person who reported the incident couldn't tell the difference between the two. Let's face it, they put stuff like that in the post without encrypting it (the weak protection afforded by the likes of WinZip does *not* count - it can be cracked in seconds with free tools already out there), so anything is possible here.
Stranger things have happened, but it could mean the data lost amounted to nearly 9GB or 18GB (assuming double-layer discs were used), instead of 1.4GB.
It's a thought...
Assuming this is a relational database backup you may not need compression. Address may just be represented by Postcode+house number lookup to standard external table. Sort code implies bank and branch which can bee another lookup.
There are other things that make me think this might just be spanned across the discs using a simple backup utility (which is probably included on the first disc ;)
@ John Styles
Your right, we have not upgraded to Excel 2008 yet. Still on 2003. In fact, we were still using 97 up until about 7 months ago....
Shocking! What do I pay my taxes for!
Where is the Paris Hilton angle?
After only four hours the current bid is running at £9,999,999.99 which sounds high but is actually quite reasonable.
Of the 25m records we are told that 10m are for adults (parents) and that represents 7.25m families. Assuming there is one bank account per family then that's approx £1.38 for each one. Even if the accounts were used for nothing but receiving the £12.81 per week paid in by the government, that still gives the potential for over 800% profit from just one fraudulent transaction per account.
Auction has ended...
"The seller ended this listing early because the item was lost or broken."
How to defeat Windows db crackers ...
... store the MySQL database files in a .tar.bz2 file
Bidding has ended...
As the item has been lost or broken.
Shame that, I was ready to offer an exchange for a random database of my own I inadvertently acquired while I was walking past TK Maxx the other morning with my laptop powered up.
How was the real password communicated to the intended recipient, i.e. NAO? Was it written on a post-it note and stuck to the CD case, by any chance?
The end of the Auction
It appears that the person who set up the Auction has terminated it.
The reasion given was that the itimes have been lost or are broaken.
Oh well, there goes Alister Darlings chance of getting them back :-)
Shame the seller has ended the auction
Pity the bidding had got silly and the seller had to end it early. The Sue Ryder Care could have done with a contribution from a generous benefactor.
I was the winning bidder, I'm not happy!
Version 2 coming soon!
Note that this was just version 1.0 release. Once the Centralised Health Database and ID Card system is online, there will be further releases of this data.
Hmmm a nice little earner
I'm thinking I could generate a database of names and addresses all with my bank details. I could then claim I found the disks and claim a reward obviously. They'll immediately load the data back into their system and pay me 7.25 million * £12.81 per week until they notice... could work for years! 'tis a flawless plan!
El Reg - can we have a Pinky and The Brain icon please? :)
To find the password
You will need one video of the latest budget speech with commentary. Watch it until they tell you what brand the chancellor is drinking on this one occasion that he is allowed booze in the house.
That'll be the password for all finance documents.
Look, this isn't the first time I've read an 'amanfromMars' post and wondered how long it was going to take me to crack it.
Are they relevant? Are they a coded message to our covert boys around the world? Are they just way too clever for me? Are they just bollocks?
Can anybody help me out here?
An obvious joke
An obvious joke by that ebay user, but amusing nonetheless - i wonder what the finder of the listing was searching for at the time to come across it...
El Reg is going to have to install that bullsh*t filter at some point again... amanfrommars' blabberings are getting worse.
Basically, he fancies himself as the Gonzo journalist of El Reg - unfortunately he sucks at it. The problem with stream-of-consciousness writing is that, when don't actually have anything to say, IT usually Comes OUt as AI streaM of pISs.
Broken by the boot of an SAS commando after storming the residents of this hilariously funny chap. With 3 broken ribs, a rifle butt imprint on his cheek, and zip-tied wrists I'm sure he's repeating the mantra... "The government has no sence of humor...The government has no sence of humor...The government has no sence of humor..." while hearing the commando say, "silly muppet, tricks are for terrorist."
This is a spook magnet beyond question.
Hate to burst your bubble (yes I lie) Winrar can open tar.bz2 files. ;)
The black helicopters have arrived
It's been pulled :-(
And some unfunny saddo's copied the idea - search for HMRC.
We Take it Personally
A then employee told me at the time that in the late 90's TNT had the contract for delivering Pfizer's then new wonder drug - the little blue pills who's name starts with V. A large shipment went missing. The loss was of course hushed up and kept out of the press.
Their corporate slogan at the time was 'We take it personally'... I never could work out if the take in the slogan meant steal or consume...
Looks as if the same guys in the company fancy their chances with the account details...
I think he's either a bot, or one of the reg hacks (bless 'em) on a dare to fit in as many obscure references as they come up with over a few bevvies on a Friday.
@ We Take it Personally..
I hope there were stiff sentences all round for those hardened criminals.
25 million records on 2CDs - really?
According to the government the details are of 25 million families and includes name, address, social security number etc. This must be several hundred bytes per record, say 500.
That makes 12.5 Gig of data. If it is in Access or Excel there is the usual Microsoft overhead of at least double so we are talking 25G. How does that get onto 2 CDs? Maybe the government has done something very clever to compress it but I doubt it. Most of the entries are probably just blank...
I'd advise not to bother bidding ...
I'd advise against bidding - the discs are obviously im(it)ations.
that I didn't print it to pdf when I had the chance... the page doesn't work at all now...
I just did a search for HMRC and - honest - this was the first "Sponsored Link":
Child Benefit Data
Worried your data is in the wrong hands? Check your credit report
Ebay seller should have made backup copies of the CDs before they got lost/damanged.
Hmmm... what about the CDs with HMRC data on them sent in internal mail that _did_ arrive? Someone in the know could have copied them en route and then put them back into the mail system... so similar data could have leaked a long time ago...
Password protected, Darling? Oh thank the Lord for that!
These disks would likely have been encoded twice with ROT13 for maximum security, so there's little chance that anyone could read them anyway...
Item Removed :(
eBay have pulled the auction.
>Maximum data you can fit in one worksheet is 65536x65536 (I doubt HMRC know how to use multiple worksheets).
>My guess is this was an Access database ....
Wow, you're wrong twice.
First of all, in Excel 2003 and earlier, you had 65536 rows x 256 columns, not the 65536 x 65536 you mentioned.
Secondly, in Excel 2007, you can have 1048576 rows x 16384 columns.
If you're going to try to be clever, at least be correct.
To be fair, no version of Excel has space in one sheet for 25 million rows. Access, however, would choke on that much data as well. It's far more likely that the file in question would be a SQL server .mdf or backup file.
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