Foreign office minister Lord Triesman has pledged an
independent inquiry into a security flaw on a website used to apply for UK
visas that made personal details of applicants easily accessible to hackers.
The online UK
visa application website for people in India,
Russia and Nigeria
is provided by VFS Global, a commercial partner of the joint Foreign Office and
Home Office agency UKVisas.
A statement on the UKVisas website says the VFS site is “currently unavailable”
due to a “technical problem”.
But Triesman acknowledged the seriousness of the security
breach, saying: “Security is paramount in our visa system. We will conduct an
immediate, thorough and independent investigation into this reported breach of
one of our commercial partner’s systems. The outcome will be made public.”
In March, UKVisas signed a £140m outsourcing deal with CSC that
will see the IT services firm establish three regional visa application centres
covering 15 countries as well as providing multilingual call centres and
websites in another 87 countries.
CSC will also be responsible for
capturing biometric data on all visa applicants, including photographs and
UKvisas’ own Visa4UK website is not affected by the security breach and is
operating normally in the countries where it is available.