Top 10 most embarrassing data breaches

The breach at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in 2007 was one of the most significant in the history of the UK. Many have seen it as a watershed moment in the security industry.

Two disks went missing containing personal and banking data of 25 million people, leading to the resignation of HMRC head Paul Gray. It was the ultimate data boo-boo.

"It affected every single family with children in the UK and as far as I'm aware the lost data has never been located," said Ferguson.

"It led to the Hannigan report and a series of recommendations for improving data handling in government."

If anything like this happens again, it will only be worse for the Government department involved. Now people recognise the value of data on a broader scale, the Coalition needs to ensure it doesn't slip up like Labour did.

1. WikiLeaks

We hardly need go into detail about the embarrassment the WikiLeaks saga has caused. Of course, the US Government was left looking silly simply because it let the various pieces of classified information escape its grasp. It was astonishing such data could get out, allegedly through one person's actions.

However the breach happened it surely wasn't as simple as someone downloading data to a CD and then walking out of Government buildings it provided plenty of potentially damaging information for everyone to get hold of.

Amongst the highlights was the revelation the US Government refused to allow Gary McKinnon to serve his sentence in the UK even after a plea from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Last month, the US Army brought 22 new charges against Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking the cables, so this is another case that is far from closed.

What's clear is that data breaches don't disappear for a long time after they occur. Indeed, the most significant ones may never be forgotten.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.