Every two weeks, we bring you a round-up of the cases and stories that caught our attention in the realm of insider risk. In this third edition of the Insider Risk Digest, we will be exploring the first landmark Canadian trial for breaches of classified information, Airport and Port infiltration trends, and one of the largest insider trading cases in German history.
Ottawa will be the home to Canada’s first-ever trial for alleged breaches of classified information under the current version of the Security of Information Act. Cameron Ortis was arrested in 2019 when he was the director general of Canada’s National Intelligence Coordination Centre. Ortis was privy to highly sensitive secrets not only of Canada’s security agencies, but also those of its Five Eyes partners; the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.
Whilst the details of the case have been tightly concealed, we know that Ortis is accused of trying to share sensitive information with a foreign entity or terrorist organisation and criminal organisations, whilst also being charged for sharing operational information in 2015 to facilitate criminal activities. This case will represent the first time that the allegations Ortis faces will be brought forward in court, representing a true test to see if Canada has the ability to prosecute espionage cases, and whether the legal infrastructure is suited to combatting the growing threat surrounding insiders and espionage.
Criminal groups are increasingly targeting airport workers to facilitate the trafficking of illegal substances. Airport workers are particularly attractive targets, with Peter Nilsson, head of Airpol, describing it as a “huge challenge”. This trend is on the rise especially following the recovery of pre-pandemic travel volume and regulations, with airports having to resort to mass hiring to meet demand. A flurry of cases is rising, with Belgium and Portugal reporting arrests in relation to drug trafficking.
This has brought two challenges: the first is the opportunity for criminal gangs to recruit or infiltrate the industry through new accomplices. The second is the increased use of temporary security passes and the relaxation of thorough screening to address staffing shortages, and clear management failures facilitating the rise of insider threat. Combined with the access insiders have to areas regular passengers do not, inflation, and dissatisfied workers, the airport cargo industry is becoming fertile ground for criminal infiltration.
Related to the story above, over the course of the last four years in the Netherlands, ten customs officers have been fired for facilitating drug trafficking, whilst three others have been suspended or arrested. Officials at all levels are approached by members of organised crime groups for their access and information, with various strategies, including intimidation and blackmail, being employed. The rise in cooperation between insiders and organised crime groups is especially high in ports, such as that of Rotterdam. A lot of work has already been done to tackle the rise of insider collusion with organised crime groups, including the generation of reporting mechanisms and an extension of screening mechanisms. However, with criminal infiltration extending to all levels of the supply chain, we must ask ourselves what more can be done to tackle this issue.
A 48-year-old in Germany has been charged with insider trading in one of the most remarkable cases in German history, an increasingly common practice in the financial sector. The individual received confidential information about future deals which a partner of Perella Weinberg, a boutique investment bank, would engage in. The gross proceeds from the insider trading exceeded €24 million, as part of a wider scheme involving another 4 suspects. This comes only months after another of the suspects took their life in January after being placed on leave. Whilst authorities recognise that the organisations did not profit or were involved in the insider trading, we must ask how these action went unmonitored for 4 years, leading not only to huge economic ramifications, but also a tragic loss of life.
A 50 year-old naturalised U.S. citizen of Ethiopian descent working within the Bureau of Intelligence and Research has been charged with espionage. Following the heavily followed arrest of Jack Texeira’s for unauthorised disclosures, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research undertook a internal security review of the Department of State’s data safeguarding mechanisms. During this review, it was highlighted that the 50 year-old “may have removed, retained and transmitted classified national defence information without authorization”. The individual acted covertly and was paid over $55,000 by Ethiopian authorities for his efforts. The insider risk program at the Department of State did not detect the anomalous behaviours and his foreign trips, or if they were detected, these were not followed up-upon, a clear internal failure.
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Author: Lucas Seewald
Author: Enrico Henriksson
Insider Risk Intern