Companies House online security concerns raised

Security company sCrib claims registrar for companies is storing passwords in plain text

Companies House has come under fire from a security firm that claims the registrar for companies in England and Wales is putting the online details of businesses at risk by storing passwords in plain text on its servers.

sCrib has said that the details of every company in the England and Wales are at risk, as these details are stored online and protected by just a password. This risk, according to sCrib, is further increased as companies often only check their accounts infrequently, which may mean any unauthorised access could go unnoticed.

When a company requests a reminder about its online password from Companies House it is sent to the company's registered address by post. sCrib said: "If this password is lost or forgotten there is no way to get it online, only resent by post - which is good."

"What is not good is that the password is not reset if this happens. In order for Companies House to be able to send out a reminder of the password without resetting it, the password must be stored in plain text on a server somewhere."

sCrib argues that this leaves a company's details "vulnerable to hackers".

If a hacker was to gain unauthorised access to Companies House online it could change a company's address, add and remove directors, or change the share distribution or ownership.

These accusations follow similar claims made about Tesco's online security, where security researcher Troy Hunt revealed that password reminders were being sent out to customers in plain text.

This led to an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office and Tesco promising to make changes to its online security.

Computerworld UK contact Companies House for comment on the accusations but had not received a statement at time of publication.