Pentagon Screw-Up Sends Data to Russian Ally

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The Pentagon made a massive mistake when it sent important emails to the wrong country, The Messenger reports.

A Pentagon official addressed a batch of emails intended for other military personnel to an address based in the African country of Mali instead. This is due to the suffix of US Military emails being “.MIL”, while email addresses for the Mali are “.ML.”

The Dutch contractor in charge of Mali’s domain first noticed US military emails appearing in Mali emails ten years ago. Luckily, most of those emails are spam or unimportant, short emails. Classified documents are never supposed to be sent via common email addresses.

This batch of emails, while not classified, contained highly sensitive information relating to US personnel:

Medical data, identifying document information, base staff lists, photos of bases, contracts, criminal complaints against military personnel, inspection reports, ship crew lists, travel itineraries, and tax records, among other pieces of information, are all included in the emails, according to the FT.

In the last ten years, Mali has been rife with political instability. A French military intervention in 2013, in cooperation with the Malian government, cleared out Islamist terrorist cells that joined with ISIS. The Central and Northern parts of the country have been in a state of insurgency, and two successive coups d’etats have taken place. The latest has resulted in an alliance between the new government and Russia, with the explosion of the French ambassador.

The United States Government is in a unique position relating to top-level domains. While other countries such as Britain (.uk), Russia (.ru), Mali (.ml) must use their country code if they wish to have control over it, the United States has oversight of common domains such as .com, .org, .gov, and .mil. The downside, as was just discovered, is that without a “.us” ending, Americans’ information can easily be sent to the wrong country.


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