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Europol staff member accidentally leaked 700 pages of serious crime cases

A security breach at Europol hash led to around 700 pages of sensitive data related to investigations being leaked online.

The EU's law enforcement agency has attributed the leak to an experienced national police staff member, who decided to take several dossiers home in order to make private backups of the files. This move breached Europol policy and was later exposed by the Dutch TV show Zembla.

The leaked files apparently included references to 54 different European investigations such as the Madrid bombings, attacks carried out on airplanes using liquid explosives and even an analysis of the terrorist organisation the Hofstad Network. To make matters worse, the files also contained hundreds of names and telephone numbers linked to terrorism alongside information on classified investigations.

A spokesperson for Europol confirmed the breach in a statement, saying: “The concerned former staff member, who is an experienced police officer from a national authority, uploaded Europol data to a private storage device while still working at Europol, in clear contravention to Europol policy.

"A security investigation regarding this case is ongoing, in coordination with the respective authorities at national level to which the staff member returned. Current information suggests that the security breach was not ill-intended. Although this case relates to Europol sensitive information dating from around 10 years ago, Europol immediately informed the concerned member states. As of today, there is no indication that an investigation has been jeopardised, due to the compromise of this historical data."

The breach will hopefully serve as a warning for those considering whether or not they should bring sensitive data from their workplace or organisation home without first seeking the proper approval.   

Image Credit: robert paul van beets / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.