Government jobs website attracts hackers

Using details that were clearly false, hackers registered as an employer and gained access to the site

The new government jobs website has been described as a "scammer's paradise" after Channel 4 News revealed major security flaws.

Hackers have obtained the personal details of job applicants taken from the government's Universal Jobmatch website, in a bid to highlight the site's vulnerability, reports Channel 4.

The leaked data includes passwords, national insurance numbers and even scans of passports.

The Universal Jobmatch website was launched on 19 November and is accessed via the government portal gov.uk. It replaced the Jobcentre Plus website, which was exposed by Channel 4 News as being vulnerable to fraudsters in 2011.

The new site allows jobcentre staff to monitor the activity of jobseekers, enabling them to check which jobs have been applied for and suggesting new jobs.

Jobseekers are not forced to use the site, although some jobseekers told Channel 4 they were left with the impression from Jobcentre staff they had to use it, to maintain their benefits.

Channel 4 found there were no security checks performed on the people who post jobs, and the programme's investigators were able to register as an employer in minutes.

Channel 4 reported that a fake ad posted by a group of hackers seeking to draw attention to the security flaws was able to harvest the personal details of over 70 jobseekers.

Using details that were clearly false the hackers registered as an employer and gained access to the site posting a fake ad for a cleaning job. This then went live unvetted.

They were then able to quickly garner personal information including passwords and passport and driving licence scans, that can be used for identity fraud or to help access email or online bank accounts.

The Department for Work and Pensions told Channel 4: "The site clearly advises jobseekers not to give out personal details like bank accounts or National Insurance numbers until a job offer's been made.

"Anybody seeking to acquire personal data by publishing fake job adverts should be aware this is potentially an attempt to commit fraud and that is a criminal offence."

It added: "We have a number of checks in place when employers register to use the site. Sadly, there will always be a small number of cases where people seek to get around these checks."

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