Over the past ten years, Dutchman Johannes Zuurbier received millions of emails from the US military in his inbox. The reason for this was a typo. Due to this mistake, many extremely sensitive information has ended up with the Dutch over the years.
That is what Zuurbier tells The Financial Times.
Some emails contain sensitive information
Since 2013 he has managed the domain name .ml, which is the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) of Mali. You can compare it with what .nl is to the Netherlands or .de to Germany. The domain name of the West African country received a lot of emails that were intended for the US military. Due to a typing error, these were not sent to the domain name .mil but to .ml.
The result was that the Dutchman received a great many documents containing extremely sensitive information. According to The Financial Times, the items included diplomatic documents, tax returns, passwords, travel information of top officers, residence addresses of overnight stays, medical records, names of soldiers and where they are stationed, inspection reports and contracts.
Warnings from Zuurbier fell on deaf ears
Due to the typo, the Dutch entrepreneur received a total of millions of emails that were intended for the American army. The situation is even more dire because Zuurbier’s contract to manage the Malian domain name will soon expire. All emails with sensitive information then end up in the hands of the Malian government. And he, in turn, has good contacts with the Kremlin.
Over the years, Zuurbier has tried several times to warn the American authorities. But his warnings fell on deaf ears. Since last January, Zuurbier has been collecting emails that have been forwarded incorrectly. The counter is now at 117,000. At the beginning of this month, he warned the Pentagon about the potential dangers, but again to no avail.
The Pentagon says it takes the matter very seriously
A Pentagon spokesman said the US Department of Defense is aware of this mistake and is taking the matter extremely seriously. “Emails sent from the .mil domain to Malian addresses are blocked before they leave the .mil domain. The sender is warned to validate the intended recipient’s email addresses,” he told The Financial Times.
In addition to emails from the US Army, Zuurbier has also received emails from the Dutch Army over the past ten years. It is obvious that the sender accidentally typed .ml as the domain name instead of .nl. Furthermore, the domain name of the Dutchman also received a number of emails that were addressed to the Australian Ministry of Defence.