Dutchman Joost Zuurbier has received 117,000 emails from the US military. The reason is typo. Zuurbier administers the Malian domain extension .ml, similar to the US military’s .mil.
The emails sometimes contain confidential and sensitive information such as passwords, passport numbers, details of weapons production, personnel lists, photographs, maps, inspection reports and travel dates of high-ranking military personnel. Some days Zuurbier receives over a thousand emails, Financial Times reports.
The Dutch discovered this problem ten years ago. He has already warned the US government several times because it poses a huge risk to the safety of soldiers. “This danger is real and could be exploited by America’s adversaries,” Zuurbier wrote in a letter to the United States earlier this month.
Mali government again soon
The Pentagon has so far taken little action, despite all the warnings from Dutch Internet entrepreneurs. But there’s a new reason to do so: Zuurbier’s contract expires on Monday, after which the government in Mali will regain control of the .ml domain extension. The African country has ties to Russia and the government has previously received support from Russia’s Wagner Group.
Former US admiral Mike Rogers, who previously headed the National Security Agency and the US military’s Cyber Command, warns in the FT about a transfer to the Malian government. “It’s a very different situation than a domain administrator trying to raise concerns. You’re talking about a foreign government that can use it for its own benefit.”
More Dutch emails
While .ml differs from the Dutch .nl by only one letter, Zuurbier, the CEO of Internet company Mali Dilli, receives a lot of Dutch e-mail by accident, sometimes including e-mails from Dutch players.
Zuurbier took over the postal country code in 2013. The Dutchman was previously known for his Internet company Dot.Tk, through which he provided domain names with an extension to the island of Dokla.
The answer is the Pentagon
A spokesperson for the US Department of Defense told the newspaper that it was “aware of the issue” and that it “takes unauthorized disclosures of controlled national security information seriously”. Emails do not contain government secrets.
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