A 28-year old deliveryman living in Hertfordshire, UK, bought a used Nikon Coolpix camera on Ebay for about $31 because he was about to go on vacation. After he got back from vacation and started downloading his pictures, he discovered some pictures that he did not remember from his trip. Turns out that this camera previously belonged to an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS - better known as MI6), and that agent did not erase the data from the camera before he /she put it on auction. Read the following quotes to get an idea of what was on the memory:
Names, snaps, fingerprints and suspects academic records were found in the memory of the digital device.
Alongside them were photos of rocket launchers and missiles which spooks believe Iran is supplying to Osama Bin Ladens henchmen in Iraq.
...a hand-drawn graphic revealed links between active al-Qaeda cells with terrorists names and occupations.
Terrorism author Neil Doyle said: These are MI6 documents relating to an operation against al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq. Its jaw-dropping they got into the public domain.
Not only do they divulge secrets about operations, operating systems and previously unheard-of MI6 departments, but they could put lives at risk.
This is scary stuff for the intelligence community, but it is also scary for the family of the man who discovered the info. He went to the police after he discovered the pictures. The local cops seemed to treat it as a joke, but soon the Special Force, which appears to be an anti-terrorist group of cops in the UK, "descended on his humble terraced home." They took away the camera and his home PC (looks like they reimbursed them £1,000) and banned the family from talking to the media. I understand the precautions, but this had to be a little nerve-wracking.
I wrote a post about a server that was sold online about a month back that contained a bunch of bank customer data, including very sensitive information. Both of these incidents are examples of people doing stupid things. An intelligence officer especially ought to know better.
Like I said in that last post, I am just glad to hear that there are some responsible and honest people out there who are finding this stuff (kudos to the UK). In the hands of less scrupolous individuals, both of these situations could have led to some extremely serious consequences.