U.S. Department of Defense Files Were Accidentally Open to the Internet for Two Weeks

  • By Steven
  • Published: Mar 01, 2023
  • Last Updated: Mar 01, 2023

U.S. Department of Defense Files Exposed

The U.S. Department of Defense is a federal department in charge of overseeing all the agencies tasked with maintaining the national security of the U.S. government. This department maintains extensive databases full of important messages, internal government forms, and much more. The Department of Defense recently inadvertently offered internet users direct access to Terabytes worth of unclassified information that could be potentially harmful if accessed and utilized by the wrong people. 

How Did the Attack Occur?

The U.S. Department of Defense failed to properly configure one of its Azure file servers, making the information open and available to anyone with access to the server's IP address. That one mistake made decades' worth of data for military personnel available on the internet. The failure to properly configure the Azure server left it accessible without the use of any sort of password. It meant that users with the IP address could immediately look through all the files contained in the database and download documents. 

What Information Was Viewed or Stolen?

The cloud server exposed over three terabytes worth of internal military email messages, many of which were related to U.S. Special Operations Command. Among the emails were select SF-86 questionnaires containing a significant amount of sensitive personal and health information for individuals attempting to obtain a higher clearance in the government to handle classified information. While none of the information on the military server appears to be classified, it's still undesirable for that information to be accessible to the general public. 

How Did Business Admit to the Breach?

The existence of the data breach was first identified by Anurag Sen, a security researcher. Sen sent out word to TechCrunch, so the organization could contact the U.S. Department of Defense and inform the organization of the issue. According to specialty security search engine records, the data was first available on February 8, 2023, and the server remained open for a total of two weeks. The US Special Operations Command replied to TechCrunch in an email, admitting that the security breach existed and explaining that it would be resolved quickly.

What Will Become of the Stolen Information?

While it's unclear if any information was actually stolen from the U.S. Department of Defense, if it was, the individuals whose information was included in the government documents available could be exposed in various ways. Credit, health, and personal information are all among the different documents on that network, and none of that should be freely available to users of the internet. 

What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach?

Anyone that believes their information was contained on that government network should watch their credit report closely for any potential changes. There is a risk that hackers could misuse that information, but there is no proof that any information is being misused currently. Watching and remaining prepared to act is likely enough to protect yourself at this time.

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