For Ten Years, US Military Sent Secret Info to Mali Due to a Typo

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For over ten years, thousands of emails associated with the US military have been getting sent to Mali, a West African country allied with Russia, due to a typo, according to a report from the Financial Times.

People have been typing ‘.ML’ [Mali] instead of ‘.MIL’.

Johannes Zuurbier, a Dutch entrepreneur contracted to manage Mali’s domain, tells the Financial Times that this has happened for over a decade despite his repeated attempts to warn the US government.

He set up a System to collect the misdirected emails, but when his contract expires, the 117,000 emails he caught, several with sensitive information, Mali authorities will gain access.

The emails include medical records, identity document information, lists of staff at military bases, photos of military bases, naval inspection reports, ship crew lists, tax records, and more.

What about a warning alert or a reminder?

Mike Rogers, a retired American admiral who used to run the National Security Agency and the US Army’s Cyber Command, told the Financial Times: “If you have this kind of sustained access, you can generate intelligence even just from unclassified information,” Daily Mail online reports.

While he added that it was not uncommon for people to send an email to the wrong address by mistake, the question was “the scale, the duration, and the sensitivity of the information.”

He warned that the imminent transfer of control over the domain to Mali was posing a significant problem because it is a foreign government that “sees it as an advantage that they can use.”

OPINION

Instead of chatting about it, it seems it could be controlled with a warning to the sender – “Do you want this to go to Mali?” That’s just for starters.

As for the emails Zuurbier caught, there needs to be a diplomatic solution to acquiring them.


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