U.S., U.K. caught in middle of huge Swiss spy data leak -- report

The countries had been trading counter-terrorism information, but a data analyst allegedly stole it and tried to sell it to commercial buyers and foreign officials, according to a report.

The U.S. and U.K. have been warned by Swiss spy agency NDB that some of the information they had shared related to counter-terrorism has been stolen, according to a new report.

Last summer, a disgruntled NDB IT technician who believed he wasn't being taken seriously over the way in which data systems should be handled, allegedly downloaded terabytes of counter-terrorism information shared among the NDB, the CIA, and the U.K.'s MI6, and had eyes on selling it off to "foreign officials and commercial buyers," Reuters is reporting today, citing European national security sources.

According to those sources, Swiss law enforcement arrested the person, whose name has been kept under wraps, before letting him go as Switzerland's attorney general's office continues its investigation.

Prior to his arrest, the person was reportedly found to have storage devices containing classified counter-terrorism information. It's believed that he allegedly downloaded "millions" of pages of information on counter-terrorism efforts.

According to Reuters' sources, Swiss officials believe that they arrested him and seized the information before he had a chance to sell it, though they can't be entirely sure.

Leaked intelligence data has become a hot commodity. Organizations like WikiLeaks have been able to obtain documents and publish them, while hacking collectives, like Anonymous and LulzSec, have taken aim at intelligence organizations to try to steal sensitive data. If the unidentified person did, in fact, steal classified information, it presents yet another challenge in ensuring sensitive data is kept private.

Those challenges are especially acute at the NDB, according to Reuters sources. Those folks say that the NDB's employee structure makes it difficult to investigate divisions and employees, and the person who allegedly stole information provided warning signs -- like not showing up to work -- that should have been caught sooner by the organization.

Tags:
Security
About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
Uber's tumultuous ups and downs in 2014 (pictures)
The best and worst quotes of 2014 (pictures)
A roomy range from LG (pictures)
This plain GE range has all of the essentials (pictures)
Sony's 'Interview' heard 'round the world (pictures)
Google Lunar XPrize: Testing Astrobotic's rover on the rocks (pictures)