U.S. Army Secrets Sold for 18 Bucks
New Zealander buys them along with second-hand MP3 player
A New Zealand man was shocked to discover classified U.S. military files on a USB device he acquired from an Oklahoma hospice shop. The device, which should have functioned as an MP3 player, contained personal information about soldiers and equipment deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Chris Ogle from Whangerei, NZ, paid only $18 for a USB MP3 player, thinking it was a good bargain. However, not little was his surprise when he plugged the device into his computer and discovered around 60 documents marked with “release prohibited by federal law.”
The information stored in the files is nothing short than mind-boggling – a mission briefing, a list of soldiers deployed to theaters of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and information about military equipment sent to military bases in the same locations. “The more I look at it, the more I see and the less I think I should be!” said the 29–year-old New Zealand man to ONE News.
The files date back to 2005 and might not pose significant risks to U.S. national security, but it does put the soldiers in a delicate situation. The personal information about them includes names, Social Security Numbers, cellphone numbers and even intimate details like their being pregnant or not. ONE News reporters claim to have called some of the numbers stored in the files and they are still active.
Contrary to what is showed in spy movies, real life examples stand proof that acquiring secret documents can be cheap, with a little luck. Several months ago, we reported on the very similar case of a British deliveryman who discovered MI6 (UK’s Secret Service) classified documents on a digital camera he bought from eBay for around $30. The files contained details of an operation against al-Queda insurgents in Iraq. They were accompanied by images of missiles and terrorists, including Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a high-ranking al-Queda lieutenant captured in 2007.
We also reported about the case of an IT manager who found the bank account information of one million people on a hard disk drive also acquired from eBay. He only paid 75 $ for the device, which had the potential of earning him hundreds of thousands on the black market had he been an identity thief. Irresponsible hardware disposal, without ensuring that sensitive data has been properly erased, is a serious security breach that can be avoided quite easily.