Feeds

UK agent leaves secret drugs info on bus

'Scatterbrained' spook's error costs £100m

Boost IT visibility and business value

A British secret agent for the Serious Organised Crime Agency left information on dozens of informers and agents on a bus while working with Colombian customs.

Agent T had been moved from the SOCA station in Ecuador to Bogota, where she was to liaise with MI5, MI6, and the US Drug Enforcement Agency. She had downloaded "SOCA's crown jewels", including details of operations, code names and addresses of informers, onto a memory stick which she had in her handbag.

Sadly she left this bag on the transit coach on her way out of the airport.

The stick contained five years of intelligence on the cocaine trade, as well as details of informants and agents. Agent T was recalled to London for an internal inquiry while those identified by the memory stick were moved to safety. A source put the cost of aborted missions at £100m.

A former colleague said of Agent T: "She’s a lovely girl but a bit daft and scatterbrained — the sort of person you could imagine forgetting her handbag on a bus.”

The failure is likely to add to criticism of SOCA, which is described by other agencies as "frankly amateurish”.

Although the incident happened in April 2006, Agent T has not been sacked and negotiations continue, according The Sunday Times.

SOCA said the screw-up happened while the agency was still being set up and that it now follows much stricter data guidelines.

The potential damage done by the lost data is much greater than an increase in spam or identity theft. Colombian cocaine cartels have a history of using technology to improve their trade and increase security.

The Cali cocaine cartel used to use an IBM AS/400 and bespoke data mining software to search for informants. The machine constantly checked the call log obtained from Colombian telecoms firms - it cross referenced all calls made against the home and office numbers of known DEA agents at the US embassy and Columbian police and investigators. This allowed the cartel to kill dozens of people and virtually destroy US drugs intelligence in the area. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?