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Typo leaks millions of sensitive US military emails to Mali web operator

US troops to leave Chad in second African state withdrawal
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According to a report by The Financial Times, a typo caused millions of sensitive emails linked to the US military to be sent to Mali, a West African country allied with Russia. Over a period of more than 10 years, individuals mistakenly used “.ML,” the country identifier for Mali, instead of the military’s “.MIL” domain when entering recipient email addresses.

Johannes Zuurbier, a Dutch entrepreneur, brought this ongoing issue to the attention of authorities, stating that despite his repeated attempts to warn the US government, the error persisted. Zuurbier intercepted around 117,000 misdirected emails, many of which contained sensitive information related to the US military, just in January alone.

According to the Financial Times, Johannes Zuurbier, who holds a contract for overseeing Mali’s domain, has been alerting the US government about the security breach for ten years.

Among the misdirected emails were diplomatic documents, tax returns, passwords and travel details of top officers.

A spokesperson from the Office of the Secretary of Defense acknowledged the problem, stating that the Department of Defense (DoD) takes unauthorized disclosures of Controlled National Security Information or Controlled Unclassified Information seriously. They mentioned that emails sent from a .mil domain to Mali are blocked, and senders are notified to validate the email addresses of intended recipients.

As of now, Zuurbier’s 10-year contract with Mali has expired, granting authorities access to the mistakenly received emails. It is worth noting that Russia established a presence in Mali through the Wagner Group, which recently staged a rebellion against President Vladimir Putin.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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