Human error blamed for police agency data security breach

Europol, a European Union police agency, blames human error for a leak resulting from a breach of its data security rules. Reportedly, a former staff member is responsible for the information about terrorism investigations becoming visible on the internet.

Zembla, a Dutch investigative television show, reported the former Europol staff member took the dossiers home and made a backup copy to a drive that was connected to the internet.

In the eyes of EU member states, a data security breach such as this one could very well undermine faith in the organisation.

In a statement, Europol claimed the organisation adheres to the highest standards of data security, seeking to allay concerns. Supposedly, continuous security briefings are provided to their staff members. Finally, Europol admitted that human error is their weakest link when data, staff, and technology intertwine.

Zembla found 700+ pages of confidential police dossiers on the drive. These reveal some crucial terrorism investigation details, including the names and phone numbers of those who were involved in the investigations.

An example of the sensitive information leaked from the dossiers was the probe into the 2004 Madrid bombings during which 191 died.

According to Europol, sensitive information from 10 years ago was revealed in the breach. They said they are investigating it and claim to have immediately informed the member states involved in the investigations.

In a statement, Europol claimed that no indication suggests an investigation had been jeopardised in any way. Together with concerned member states, Europol will continue to assess the impact of this breach.