MI6, CIA Secrets Stolen By Swiss Spy
The senior technician became so disgruntled earlier this year that he stopped showing up for work at the NDB, the Swiss intelligence service.
But the agency only realised that something was amiss when UBS, the largest Swiss bank, expressed concern about an attempt to set up a new numbered bank account, which was traced to the technician.
Swiss investigators raided his home and seized portable storage devices containing terrabytes of classified information, running into hundreds of thousands of printed pages.
He had apparently downloaded the material from the Swiss intelligence service’s servers onto portable hard drives and then carried them out of government buildings in a backpack.
Investigators believe he intended to sell the stolen data to foreign intelligence agencies or commercial buyers.
Swiss authorities believe that the stolen data was seized before he had an opportunity to sell it but could not be absolutely sure.
As a result they have notified foreign intelligence partners including MI6 and the CIA their information may have been compromised.
The British and Americans routinely share data on counter-terrorism and other issues with the NDB, the Federal Intelligence Service.
The suspect in the spy data theft worked for the NDB, which is part of Switzerland’s Defense Ministry, for about eight years.
He was described by a Reuters source close to the investigation as a “very talented” technician and senior enough to have “administrator rights,” giving him unrestricted access to most or all of the NDB’s networks.
A European security source said investigators now believe the suspect became disgruntled because he felt he was being ignored and his advice on operating the data systems was not being taken seriously.
He was released from prison while a criminal investigation by the office of Switzerland’s Federal Attorney General continues, according to two sources familiar with the case.
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and a senior prosecutor, Carolo Bulletti, announced in September that they were investigating the data theft and its alleged perpetrator. A spokeswoman for the attorney general said she was prohibited by law from disclosing the suspect’s identity.
A spokesman for the NDB said he could not comment on the investigation.
Data theft is an increasing problem in the espionage world. Two years ago a British spy called Daniel Houghton was caught trying to sell information he had smuggled out of MI6â€™s headquarters at Vauxhall Cross.
Houghton, a computer programmer, was trying to sell a cutting edge technique for intercepting emails along with staff lists of over 300 named MI5 and MI6 officers and the home and mobile telephone numbers of 39 officers.
He downloaded at least 7,000 files onto a number of CDs and DVD disks which he then copied onto a secure digital memory card, later found under the bed in his shared flat in East London.
Houghton approached the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, asking for ÂŁ2m and they tipped off their British counterparts who set up a sting operation in a London hotel.
Most intelligence services employ IT security measures which stop users copying files but their most important line of defence is the vetting of their staff and where staff turn on their employers it is difficult to stop leaks.
The NDB is a relatively new agency which combines the functions of predecessor agencies that conducted foreign and domestic intelligence activities.
But questions are now being asked over the NDB’s structure in which its human resources staff, responsible for ensuring the reliability and trustworthiness of the agency’s personnel, are in the same division as the agency’s information technology.
The Foreign Office declined to comment.