Personnel records of former and current members of Nigeria’s top domestic spy agency, the State Security Services, including home addresses and names of immediate family members, leaked onto the Internet in a threatening message that claimed to come from a radical Islamist sect that’s killed hundreds of people this year alone, The Associated Press has reported.
“The leak of personal data of more than 60 past and current employees of Nigeria’s State Security Service remained easily accessible on the Internet for days and had details about the agency’s director-general, including his mobile phone number, bank account particulars and contact information for his son.
“Many of agents listed who could be reached by the AP said they received no official warning from the spy agency that their information had been posted online nor been otherwise alerted. The material has been deleted from the comment section of a website, but the security breach astonished spy service veterans and calls into question whether Nigeria’s intelligence community, whose agents already have released suspected terrorists out of religious and ethnic sympathies, are too compromised from within to stop the violence now plaguing Africa’s most populous nation.
“A senior Nigerian intelligence official said authorities were aware that the leak had happened and that many were embarrassed by it. He spoke on condition of anonymity as information about the leak was not to have been made public.
“Marilyn Ogar, a spokeswoman for the State Security Service, declined to answer questions Thursday about the posting of the information.
According to the news agency, “The information leak came in two postings earlier this month on a website that provides rewritten news on Nigeria. The first posting threatened to kill agents of the State Security Service on behalf of Boko Haram, a radical Islamist sect responsible for more than 660 killings this year alone in Nigeria. The second posting simply offered a block of text containing biographical and other details about the agents.
Though the comments have been removed, the AP is not identifying the website involved as cached versions of the comments remain online and intelligence service agents have been killed by Boko Haram members in the past.
“The list includes former and current agents across the country, including Director-General Ekpeyong Ita. Those reached by the AP who were willing to talk expressed disbelief that sensitive information like that could make its way to the Internet.
“I was shocked to see my details posted on the Internet,” said one former agent, who declined to be named out of safety concerns. “I’ve not heard anything from anybody. I was surprised that such information could be leaked.”
“Another man on the list said he simply once served as a doctor to help the agency on an on-call basis only. The list appeared to include lower-ranking agents, as well as one-time state directors for the agency.
“Some of those contacted suggested that the list appeared to come from the agency’s pension department, as it mostly included retirees and listed bank account information for nearly all those named. It was not immediately clear if the information had been hacked from the outside and obtained or taken out by an agency employee or someone with access to the material.