Millions Of U.S. Army Emails Mistakenly Sent To Mali, Africa

Due to the lack of an English letter “i”, millions of US military emails that should have been sent to the US Pentagon were mistakenly sent to the email account of Russia’s ally Mali.

According to a Dutch technical expert, due to the similarity between the email address of the US military and the domain name of Mali, millions of emails have been sent to the wrong email account in the past ten years, leaking sensitive information such as hotel reservation information of senior US military officers.

The emails were supposed to be sent to a “.mil” email account, which is a domain owned by the US military, but due to a typo in “.ml”, the emails were sent to an administrative Malian email account.

The erroneous email reveals that missing a single letter of the English language can pose a serious risk to U.S. national security officials. Personal information in the emails could have been used in targeted cyberattacks or to track the movements of Pentagon personnel, although there is no evidence this has happened.

Dutch internet entrepreneur Johannes Zuurbier, whose company manages “.ml” domains, received the misdirected emails. He said he had repeatedly raised the issue with U.S. officials starting in 2013, including at the U.S. embassy in Mali this year. Johannes Zuurbier, whose contract to manage “. ml” domains ended last week, further raised media attention to the issue.

Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said that while the leaked emails did not originate from official DoD email addresses, the department has blocked email accounts from sending to “.ml” email addresses as a precautionary measure.

While the number of misposted emails has decreased in recent years, hundreds of them are still sent every day, often with sensitive information. For example, one of the emails contained the hotel room number of Army Chief of Staff James McConville when he visited Indonesia in May of this year.

In addition, this is not the first time the U.S. military has encountered email leaks this year. In February of this year, a batch of internal US Special Operations Command emails were publicly available on the Internet for about two weeks due to an IT setting error. The problem was fixed by the Pentagon after a private security researcher discovered and notified it.


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