Major Security Breach Hits EU Police Agency

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.27 - 2024 7:58 AM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Confidential data on Europol's leadership vanished from its headquarters, sparking an internal investigation and concerns about potential internal conflicts within the agency.

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Confidential data containing personal information about the leadership of Europol, the European Union's central law enforcement agency, went missing from its headquarters in The Hague last summer, according to Politico.

Internal documents and discussions with current and former employees reveal that printed personal files belonging to Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle and her three deputies vanished before September.

"On September 6, 2023, the Directorate of Europol was informed about the disappearance of personal documents of several Europol employees. Given Europol's role as a law enforcement agency, the disappearance of employees' personal files is a serious security and personal data breach incident," according to an internal memo published on the agency's system on September 18.

Europol is among the largest agencies of the European Union, coordinating significant international investigations and operations alongside national police forces, Interpol, and the US FBI.

Some of the missing files were reportedly discovered in a public area in The Hague by a passerby and subsequently handed over to the local police station. The duration for which they were missing and the reasons behind their removal from the agency's headquarters remain unknown.

Following the incident, Massimiliano Bettina, the head of Europol's human resources department, was placed on administrative leave. Bettina declined to comment on the situation when approached by the press.

The agency secures confidential hard copies of HR files in a locked safe, accessible only to a select few with the code, within a staff-restricted area.

Bettina, with a background as chief marshal in the Italian police, has led the HR department of Europol since 2016. The agency employs over 1,400 individuals.

Sources suggest the possibility that the incident was intended to target Bettina amidst internal agency disputes.

Earlier, in February, Politico disclosed the discovery of spyware on the smartphones of two European Parliament members, including Nathalie Loiseau, the former French Minister for European Affairs and chair of the defense subcommittee.

Furthermore, the UK reported that hackers, believed to be linked to China, were behind a cyberattack on the British Electoral Commission, compromising the personal information of millions of voters.

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