Millions of sensitive emails linked with the US military was sent to Mali, a West African country allied with Russia, due to a typo, The Financial Times reported on Monday.
The emails kept going to Mali for over 10 years as people typed .ML, the country identifier for Mali, by mistake rather than appending the military’s .MIL domain to their recipient’s email address, the report noted.
A Dutch entrepreneur named Johannes Zuurbier brought this to notice that such mistake "has been happening for over a decade despite his repeated attempts to warn the US government”.
Since January alone, Zuurbier reportedly intercepted 117,000 misdirected emails, several of which contain sensitive information related to the US military.
Several such emails reportedly had 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.
“The Department of Defense (DoD) is aware of this issue and takes all unauthorised disclosures of Controlled National Security Information or Controlled Unclassified Information seriously,” a spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, told The Verge.
The spokesperson added that emails sent from a .mil domain to Mali are “blocked” and that the “sender is notified that they must validate the email addresses of the intended recipients.”
Meanwhile, Zuurbier’s 10-year contract with Mali ended on Monday and authorities will now be able to gain access to the emails.
Russia established a presence in Mali last year through the Wagner Group which recently recently staged a rebellion against President Vladimir Putin.