Feeds

US and UK spooks alerted over massive Swiss data leak

Rogue IT admin plundered state secrets

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Swiss intelligence agency (NDB) has been warning its US and UK counterparts that it may have lost terabytes of their secret information, thanks to one of its IT administrators pulling an inside job.

The rogue administrator, whom a source described to Reuters as "very talented," had admin rights to most of the NBD's servers, including sensitive files contributed from other agencies such as Britain's MI6 and the CIA. He'd worked at the NDB for eight years but was reportedly disgruntled at his job and felt management were ignoring his suggestions on systems management.

The source said that the admin had been exhibiting warning signs, like failing to show up for work on a regular basis, and had copied large amounts of data onto small portable drives and smuggled them out of the office in his backpack. It is believed he was trying to sell the data to third parties.

The NDB were only alerted when the Swiss bank UBS told them of a suspicious attempt to set up a numbered account. Investigators raided the admin's home and found large numbers of files stashed on portable drives.

It appears at this stage that he was raided before he managed to sell any of the data, but the NDB has informed partner agencies just in case. Nevertheless, it's an embarrassing situation for the Swiss, given that country's reputation for secrecy and reliability. A Swiss parliamentary committee has been set up to examine the affair and is expected to issue a report in the spring.

While you'd expect the NDB would have some sort of data tracking system to monitor who was downloading what, it's also likely that a senior administrator would have been able to find a way around it. It's another case of a "Layer 8" security problem that's very difficult to deal with.

Here in San Francisco, we had our own version of this with the case of Terry Childs, who was one of the chief admins on the city's intranet. In a fit of pique he locked everyone else out of the system and refused to hand over the passwords to anyone other than the mayor. He got four years in prison and a bill for $1.5m in cleanup costs. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.