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The Biggest Security Breaches in History

The Biggest Security Breaches in History

Posted on by The IBWEST Team

Even the largest institutions in the world suffer breaches in security.
Some faults are down to human error, others are mechanical or digital failures and some are just plain old bad luck.

Let’s take a look at 4 of the most infamous security breaches in history.


Fake Cardinal Sneaks into the Conclave

As the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, The Pope has one of the highest levels of personal protection on earth.

However, in 2013, German Ralph Napierski made it past a flabbergasting amount of security all the way to the square in front of the Paul VI Audience Hall, Vaticanbefore being rumbled by – not the security personnel – but The Swiss Guard, a papal team who are essentially the Vatican’s fashion police.

Napierski, it seems, was wearing a purple scarf in place of a sash and a black fedora in place of the traditional red skull cap.

 

Michael Fagan Walks into the Queen’s Bedroom

On 9th July 1982, an unemployed opportunist named Michael Fagan scaled the 4.3 metre high, barbed-wire-topped walls of Buckingham Palace, crossed the grounds and shimmied up a drainpipe.
Once inside, Fagan walked around the corridors with ease, drank some wine that he found and made his way to the Queen’s bedroom.

At the time, the footman (the Queen’s personal armed guard) was walking the corgis, and this slip up allowed for the biggest breach in royal security of the 20th century. Thankfully, Fagan’s intentions were harmless. Bored, destitute and with nothing else to do, Fagan admitted that he just wanted to chat with the monarch who he held in high regard.

Amazingly, Fagan was never charged, as at the time it was not considered a crime to trespass in the palace. The police attempted to charge him with theft (of the wine) but failed after Fagan was psychiatrically assessed.

 

Karl Power the Professional Sports Imposter

The feats of Karl Power are not necessarily notable for the levels of security he breached, but for how many times he breached them.
Security at high-level sporting events are anything but scant, but for several famous venues to be hoodwinked by a simple disguise four times is remarkable.

  1. On 18 April 2001 before Manchester United played Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League, Karl Power disguised himself in full away kit and posed for the team photo.
  2. Later that same year, when the England cricket team played against Australia at Headingley he walked onto the green to bat for the team before removing his helmet and being escorted off the pitch.
  3. Karl is famous for beating Michael Schumacher to the winner’s podium in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2002.
  4. Karl also managed to get onto centre court at Wimbledon and play a short game during the tournament.

Each stunt required Karl to don a disguise and blag his way through various security measures that cost thousands to put in place.

 

Edward Snowden

Whether you believe Snowden is a traitor or a patriot, the fact remains that he is at the heart of the biggest security fail of this generation.

In 2013
, Snowden took up a job with Booz Allen Hamilton, an NSA contractor after being employed by Dell and the CIA.
In May of that year, Snowden left his job and flew to Hong Kong. The following month Snowden revealed thousands of documents pertaining to US surveillance plans to a selection of journalists.

Stories started pouring in from major news outlets across the world and all of it concerned sensitive US intelligence regarding national security and personal privacy matters.

Was he right to do it?
Nobody seems to agree on an answer to this important question. What we do know is that Snowden’s moral sensibility and computing prowess allowed him to breach some of the finest digital security in the world.

 
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