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back to article US and UK spooks alerted over massive Swiss data leak

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, …

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Not a very good BOFH

He would have set the numbered accounts up BEFORE trying to nick the secret information and sell it, and he certainly wouldn't have got caught! It would have been the boss, who would be found in the server room after an unfortunate halon discharge!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not a very good BOFH

He would have set the numbered accounts up BEFORE trying to nick the secret information

No, it simply means he would have saved the NBD the embarrassment because they would have picked him up before he started stealing data. And he would have saved Reuters the embarrassment of misspelling "terabytes" (they wrote "terrabytes" so SI units are obviously not their strong suit).

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Happy

Re: Not a very good BOFH

It could be he's completely innocent and was set up by the PFY. . . .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not a very good BOFH

Not just that - he would have set it up _ELSEWHERE_ if he was good. After all, in his position he should have known just how "secret" these accounts really are.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not a very good BOFH

Trying to set up a secret numbered bank account with the number "666" was guaranteed to wave a red flag.

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Ru

Re: Not a very good BOFH

"The NDB were only alerted when the Swiss bank UBS told them of a suspicious attempt to set up a numbered account"

Is there a way to open a numbered bank account in a non-suspicious way?

Just out of curiosity, you understand.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: proof

Psychic investigators, perhaps?

The CIA probably sent in Uri Gellar to read the house and find out what had gone on there, bending all the cuckoo clocks and making them chime like a Loony Toons sound effect in the process.

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Windows

Keep your hair on...

" 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."

So he goes and compromises the lot? Hmmm....

The tramp: that's what he'll be when they let him out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Keep your hair on...

Maybe. If I were him I'd be more worried about being declared insane (the wide swing in ethics leaves that as option).

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Re: Keep your hair on...

"The tramp: that's what he'll be when they let him out."

Except for the $200million in an offshore account they don't know about .

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Anonymous Coward

15 years in the pen should sort his head out

This is a case of talent wasted on a stupid vindictive act. Now his life is pretty much over if they sentence him properly.

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Re: 15 years in the pen should sort his head out

...and when he finally gets out he will doubtless immediately be extradited to the States to face an even longer sentence.

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Re: 15 years in the pen should sort his head out

>>"...and when he finally gets out he will doubtless immediately be extradited to the States to face an even longer sentence."

Absolutely.

For some values of 'doubtless'.

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Meh

Not sure about "very talented"

He got caught.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure about "very talented"

Routers said he was a '"very talented" technician'. He just wasn't very good at the other spy skills, like setting up numbered bank accounts without attracting attention.

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Coat

par for the course

Employees are the biggest security hole in systems. ... Taking a copy of a databases from a previous employers, is par for the course, wherever i have worked. This is mostly for personal reference rather than for flogging off to the highest bidder.

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Sounds like they were just as guilty.

"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."

Maybe it's the way it's worded, or the way I'm reading it, but someone or someones observed him complaining, missing work, and then coming in, copying "large" amounts of data, storing it ON HIS PERSON, and leaving?

I think that's more of a "warning sign"......

I'm not sure about there but here in the states, in many government facilities, you go in and out of screening everyday, and can and will have items random searched. This applies to EVERYONE coming and going.

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Anonymous Coward

In the states, in many government facilities, you go in and out of screening everyday, and can and will have items random searched. This applies to EVERYONE coming and going.

I would have answered that in certain places in the UK you're not allowed to enter with anything electronic in your pocket (it gets locked in an earthed metal box at reception until you return), but I'm not sure that would have helped here. I have seen some pretty scary things from our counter intercept people, so personally I think there is more value in making sure the human element is dealt with. Making sure people are proud of their job and the trust invested in them is IMHO better prevention - after all, insiders KNOW where you placed the tripwires.

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Pint

"I think that's more of a "warning sign"......"

I'm suspecting that they didn't notice he was walking out with storage stashed in a book until AFTER other factors came to light!

"I'm not sure about there but here in the states, in many government facilities, you go in and out of screening everyday, and can and will have items random searched."

I'm guessing he just walked through with a book in-hand. Just hollow out a chunk near the spine for a memory stick and you can even flick through the pages without the 'hole' showing, if stopped and checked.

His major mistake was trying to set up accounts in Switzerland. It's a lot harder and under a lot closer examination than it used to be. There are much better European countries to set this kind of stuff up in these days.

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Anonymous Coward

His major mistake was trying to set up accounts in Switzerland. It's a lot harder and under a lot closer examination than it used to be. There are much better European countries to set this kind of stuff up in these days.

That's a worrying bit of expertise you have ..

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Id be surprised if hes not found wearing women's clothes and hanging from a tree very shortly.

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Facepalm

PS I wonder if they looked in the bathroom yet for any bulging kit bags

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Obviously forgot the first rule of SCIFs

Everything goes in, and nothing goes out!

Yes, that corner over there has lots of older drives, now considered doorstops.

I have a nephew that works with these things almost every day, and this is about all he will tell me, although he mentions in passing "Three letter agencies" in only those terms.

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Pint

Disgruntled employee award of the last eight years!

Still, we might have missed some juicy info about what's going down in roach cabinet.

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Holmes

First 'warning' sign - Spook wears rucksack to work each day and often calls in sick. James Bond make way...

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Big Brother

Not like the Swiss

not to have had things screwed down before they were screwed.

What amazes me is that it *appears* that they didn't have any form of Access Management setup to give out time restricted passwords, privilege rights or key stroke/screen recording (let alone video recording) to ANY

Or maybe they do and this is only part of the story.......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not like the Swiss

It's partly due to the fact that they were just reorganised. It is, incidentally, an old story, so I'm a bit puzzled why i suddenly erupted again in the press.

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Trollface

Re: Not like the Swiss

@AC 12:18 GMT

Because they finally told the UK and US spooks? You know, Swiss and speed... Just a guess

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Holmes

Senior Adminstrator!

A not so simple problem.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

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Anonymous Coward

We're relying on BANKERS to keep the worlds data safe?!

We really are screwed!

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Holmes

Re: We're relying on BANKERS to keep the worlds data safe?!

No you are relying on Central Banking + Politicians to keep the economy working.

Yes you really are screwed.

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Anonymous Coward

I remember when for some reason I was talking about information security, segregation of duties and similar "crap" in some brick factory I got reply "this is not a bank". When I was talking about similar topics in a bank, I got replies - "this is not intelligence agency" (all this in a country where GDP per capita is 2.9 times smaller than in Switzerland) . I wonder what would be the replies if I would talk about these topics in Swiss Intelligence Agency? :) Reading such things about intelligence agency in one of the most wealthy countries in the world (though not the most paranoid) IMHO is a bit discouraging for the rest pushing for more info security controls elsewhere.

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Trollface

Good news overall then: one more IT position open in Switzerland !

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WTF?

It's all OK ..

.. everything was found in his flat.

And we all know that data on a USB stick can't be copied ..

Oh .. hang on ..

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WTF?

Re: It's all OK ..

Bigger question:

How do they know everything was found? Forget copying a USB stick, how about an original stick that simply isn't there. How could they possibly know that?

If I did this and they caught me and asked "Is this everything you took?" The only possible answer to that question is "Yes".

If I had sold some and they knew, then they would be asking who else I had sold stuff to. If I had sold some and they didn't know, then I'd damned well not incriminate myself further by offering "Oh, that, yes well everything but the four 2TB drives I sold to some zimbabwe fellow."

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Facepalm

first rule of selling state secrets

dont be found setting up shop in your house when you should have been at work looking after the secrets.

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Anonymous Coward

Well...

I bet that information was absolutely fascinating. Must have been buyers everywhere. LOL.

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In other news...

One of the German Bundersländer has bought a CD for the princely sum of 2.5 million Euro from an undisclosed source, containing account details of some 1500 swiss accounts. The data was stolen from UBS. Our German friends have allegedly already recuperated some 200.000.000 Euro's in backtaxes as a result of acquiring these stolen goods.

AFAIK this is the second time something like this has happened.

I don't know what's worse at this point : the tax evaders or governments using tax payer's money to purchase stolen information.

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Mushroom

Re: In other news...

Were I one of those implicated by stolen data, I'd be very likely to try to bluff it out. After all, the prosecutors are trying to build a case using data of the worst possible provenance, which they cannot prove to be genuine and which the originator will say absolutely nothing about either way.

That then comes down to "prove beyond reasonable doubt", which with the sole evidence being of such dubious quality is going to fail, surely?

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Re: In other news...

good luck with that. They only need the data to infer the existence of these sorts of accounts. Once their existence is known they have many many ways of demanding the tax money with menaces...

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Re: In other news...

It doesn't work that way, unfortunately. Swizerland has come under a great deal of pressure lately (including from the US) to do away with their banking confidentiality. deals have been struck, agreements have been signed, nudges have been nudged and winks have been winked.

In this case, the German taxman would simply ask the Swiss bank if a German national named X has a bank account with them. If the answer is yes, they would verify (which of course they have done up front) if X has declared said account on his/her tax form. If this would not seem to be the case, they would wave the official inquiry, not the illicitly obtained CD.

To add insult to injury, tax law over here works on the principle of 'guilty until proven innocent' (yes, this has been confirmed by the courts).

And we do NOT have jury trials for anything but capital offence cases. Which, of course tax evasion is not. Although I would probably piss myself laughing if a multi billionair tax-evader (Taxi Vader ?) would insist on being tried by a jury of his peers !

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Holmes

Access control

The Swiss taxpayer does not like to allocate huge resources to the government. As such, government operates on a small budget and under a no-debt mandate (so it can't just borrow the money from your children, like the rest of the world does).

Infrastructure projects do get special funding, once they pass public vote.

But the budget of a spy-agency in a small country with a part-time government is very limited....

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Re: Access control

"The Swiss taxpayer does not like to allocate huge resources to the government"

Indeed they don't -as far as I'm aware the bulk of taxes go to the local community & the local canton and then a small amount to the Federal government.

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Megaphone

Suspicious? Schmsuspicious!

Um, so this worthy piece of journalism says there were suspicious warning signs

...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...

Really? And he'd be allowed to carry on his merry way?

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Cayman Islands the newer land of the tax exiles profits

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Anonymous Coward

Terry Childs similarities? BS

What does the Terry Childs case have to do with this? Aside from this being about system administrators I see no similarity.

Terry Childs is a guy who refused to give admin access to equipment to his boss because he believed his boss was incompetent and the security policy stated it was to go to somebody else. Also he never took the network was never offline, or directly caused any services to fail. One could argue that Terry Childs was trying to protect the network inspite of incompetent supervisors.

This guy appears to have been stealing data to sell it, how is that related? Trying to draw some kind of similarity between the two makes this article look stupid. The two cases are almost at opposite ends of a spectrum.

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