Major Police Breach Endangers Safety of Officers & Civilians

A mistake snowballs into a serious political issue as the safety of police officers in Northern Ireland is compromised in an accidental data leak.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

August 9, 2023

1 Min Read
The flag of Northern Ireland waving in front of the flag of England.
Source: Stephen Barnes/Northern Ireland via Alamy Stock Photo

A data leak may put the safety of 10,000 serving police officers in Northern Ireland in peril.

The names of the officers were leaked in an error made by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request. A FoI request is made by someone who is in search of information that furthers the commercial or trade interests of the individual. A spreadsheet with sensitive details, include names, ranks, departments, and locations of all the serving officers in the PSNI, was published in error. While taken down quickly, officials aren't sure who accessed the spreadsheet and if the information was copied.

The spreadsheet was uploaded on an FOI website — called WhatDoTheyKnow — on Tuesday at around 2:30 p.m. and removed two hours later with an apology from Chris Todd, a PSNI assistant chief constable. An emergency meeting of the Police Board of Northern Ireland is planned for Aug. 10 to discuss and handle the situation. According to some news reports, the details of the spreadsheet have already begun to spread on social media.

"This is an issue we take extremely seriously and as our investigation continues, we will keep the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Information Commissioner's Office updated," the PSNI said in a public statement

The breach comes just a day after the attack on the Electoral Commission, raising concerns on the effectiveness of cybersecurity safeguards in the UK

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Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

Dark Reading is a leading cybersecurity media site.

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