back to article UK Ministry of Defence apologises – again – after another major email blunder in Afghanistan

A second leak of personal data was reportedly committed by the Ministry of Defence, raising further questions about the ministry's commitment to the safety of people in Afghanistan, some of whom are its own former employees. The BBC reported overnight that the details of a further 55 Afghans  – claimed to be candidates for …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    This kind of so called accidental breach seems to happen so frequently one could get the impression it is willful.

    Perhaps the perpetrators of these mistake could be sent oversee something in Afghanistan?

    Such as cleaning Taliban toilets.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Why does it happen so often ?

      This kind of so called accidental breach seems to happen so frequently one could get the impression it is willful.

      No, it is people just doing things without thinking. You could send them on a training course once a month and it would still happen.

      They will (hopefully) bollock whoever did it. This person will be careful for a while but might do it again next year.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why does it happen so often ?

        Wasn't this the plot of a Bond movie?

        Moneypenny has to shoot Daniel Craig before he leaves a disk with list of all the agents on a train

  2. Clausewitz 4.0
    Devil

    SNAFU after SNAFU (2)

    I am starting to seriously think maybe there is a reason to that - they want to relocate less people.

    More graves = less people to relocate.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Those so-call blunders kill, dammit!

    Does the concept of "reckless homicide" exist in UK's laws?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      This was the MoD, laws don't apply to people with nukes

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        These cock-ups are civilian workers in the MoD; they don't own nukes and we should Shanghai the lot of them.

  4. Dr Who

    Presumably the suspended person is the muppet who included the addresses in the cc field.

    It should be people at the very to of the MoD who ultimately get suspended. The system is at fault, not an admin clerk. Being able to paste the addresses into the cc field means they were somehow available on a standard email distribution list or most likely an Excel fu**ing spreadsheet. They should be on a secure list server where nobody can see the addresses and where each recipient receives an individual copy of the email, preferrably with the address in bcc, and the sending of which is logged and stamped with the ID of the user who authorised the sending. Nobody, whether within the MoD or outside it should see these addresses on screen.

    Or even better, use a secure portal to communicate.

    FFS Mailchimp would be a thousand times more secure than what the MoD is doing, apparently routinely.

    These twats have put actual lives of actual people, along with their families in grave danger of death or worse. No fine is big enough - a spell in prison should send the right message.

    1. Diogenes8080

      Timing unclear

      BBC story clarifies that Wallace was not aware of leak of 55 names when he announced disciplining of an official for the leak of 250+ names. However, it is not clear in what order those breaches occurred. It could still be the same chump responsible for both. Investigation of 250+ leak may have led to second discovery.

      ARAP covers a problem that did not exist two months ago so was probably thrown together using whatever and whoever was available.

      Am still not impressed by any mail system that accepts a very large number of recipients for a single message, regardless of address mode.

      1. Stuart Halliday

        Re: Timing unclear

        Trivial to get any decent email Server to pick up on the use of CC and auto convert it to BCC.

        Fire the IT Admin too for not implementing this.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      The system is at fault, not an admin clerk.

      While that's true, the old rule is "crap rolls down hill" and it's usually some poor schmuck at the bottom who takes the blame.

  5. Gavin Jamie

    Smple safeguards

    I am always a bit surprised that my mail client asks me if I use the word "attatched" in an email without and attatchment but does not at least put a an "are you sure" screen if I am sending to >10 people in the To: or CC: sections who will see each others emails.

    Would this be a hard feature?

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      Re: Smple safeguards

      Thunderbird nags me if I put more than 5 in the cc field offering bcc. But with that number of addressees why on earth aren't they using a mailinglist manager? It's like running a database on a spreadsheet. Oh, wait ...

    2. DoctorPaul

      Re: Smple safeguards

      Even my crappy TSOHost webmail warns me if I cc more than 5 or so people - as happens with family emails where we want to see who is included and keep up the discussion with reply-all

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BCC should be the default

    BCC should be the default. CC should be more hidden.

    If you make a mistake, it's far less damaging to re-send a BCC'd mail you meant to send CC'd !

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Email works fine as it is.

      For the people who use their brain, that is.

      You can't implement safeguards against everything. The only safeguard against everything is shutting down the computer.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        You might not be able to implement safeguards against everything but you should implement an obvious one to something with such a long history of errors with potentially extremely serious consequences.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          The problem is they probably do have lots of safeguards.

          Such that it takes 17 levels of sign-off on 8 different security systems by 3 admirals, a field-marshall and 2 popes, to send an email to another dept, and this can only be done from a single Tempest shielded secure terminal in a locked room in a bunker under Rockall.

          So as a result the entire system relies on people emailing spreadsheets to each other from private hotmail accounts.

          The result of the enquiry will be to add another layer of locks to the door to the bunker ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Trollface

        >Email works fine as it is.

        Apparently not.

        No one is advocating safeguards against everything, just safeguards against things that happen all too often with frequently dire consequences.

        Blaming users for common mistakes is stupid - systems should be designed for human beings with all their flaws. Any frequent user error is in reality a design error.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    "the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) team"

    Good thing they didn't name it the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Bureau.

    That would have been a bit messy.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) team"

      ARAP is just a small part of the MoD's general "Country Relocation and Assistance Policy"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) team"

      No, it's definitely the Kabul Relocation and Assistance Policy team.

      1. Diogenes8080

        Re: "the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) team"

        Joking aside, that comment might frame the problem with the West's policy in Afghanistan over the last 15 years rather well.

  8. Dave 15 Silver badge

    'All this for .... nothing really

    The worst of the whole thing is that the whole invasion turned out to be pointless because the weak liver bellied woosies in charge hadnt the balls or the gumption to let the military actually go in and win. Instead they waffled and wouldnt let soldiers shoot Taliban and their supporters whining that the civilians who were supporting and helping them might get hurt. Nor would they properly confront Pakistan and others who were actively supporting the Taliban.

    Of course the yanks pretty much are to blame for the whole lot, after all without them the Taliban wouldnt exist at all

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 'All this for .... nothing really

      But now we will "win".

      Afghanistan has no legal exports and needs to import almost all of its food and medicine. We no longer need Pakistan's "cooperation" so can force it go along with embargos on imports.

      Then a couple of drone strikes can take out water treatment and sewage works, and any remaining hospitals.

      We should be able to engineer a famine that kills easily 20% of the 30million population.

      Call it 6 Million dead with no casualties on our side - and we don't even have to pay the gas bill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'All this for .... nothing really

        Why use famine when "a cold" will do - China tried with MERS, which failed, then the new one, but it doesn't seam to affect anyone it that region. Is it goats milk that prevents infection or maybe using your hand in place of tp creates super immunity,,, idk

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again we find out that money can't fix everything......

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/01/philp-hammond-to-spend-extra-19bn-fighting-cyber-attacks

    *

    Yup....2016....Yup....£1,900,000,000 EXTRA tax payer money to "protect" the UK and its employees. Billions......."security"....."think of the children"...........

    *

    Maybe the Tories need to spend TRILLIONS before the training reaches this d**k head in the MOD??

    *

    So....the REAL bad actors are in Main Building (a big building on Whitehall).........you know, near Number 10, Downing Street!!!!!

  10. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    At least...

    At least they apologised. You know these days, if they didn't, nothing really would happen.

    Society became like a Pavlov dog. If the outrage is not manufactured by the media, then nobody cares about those things.

    It's great that there are souls who put effort into exposing these things, but this is becoming niche, which is quite worrying.

    Most already turned the page on Afghanistan.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In real terms

    The West dropped the ball when they allowed Bin Laden and his minions to escape after 9/11.

    Seems that at the time assassinations were permitted but not of "important individuals" so as not to send out the wrong message.

    This is also the same reason why it took so long to locate him in p******n because randomly stopping suspects and checking to see if they had

    digital media on them was frowned upon.

    I sometimes wonder given the current state of the Middle East, whether a low yield nuclear strike with an ERW on the "suspected" locations in sparsely habitated mountains might have done less overall damage in the long term and sent out a clear message, but such thinking is tantamount to high treason these days.

    Yet at a certain point during the early 1950s the SU actually looked into using such weapons but also discounted it at the time for IMHO ridiculous reasons

    like "it might lead to another conflict".

    Signed: Captain A Jarhead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In real terms

      such thinking is tantamount to high treason these days. Not high treason, it's just insane. Let's create a precedent for the casual use of nuclear weapons. Maybe let Putin decide it would be a fun thing to do to Ukraine, or Xi to Taiwan. Let's murder 10s of thousands of innocents to achieve our aim. And if it turns out that 'they' were in a city? Still OK? Do you think we can play 'the ends justifies the means' or should we go with 'just following orders'?

    2. Clausewitz 4.0
      Devil

      Re: In real terms

      The no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons was a well thought out stand... We don't intend to reverse it.

      -Rajnath Singh

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: In real terms

      >I sometimes wonder given the current state of the Middle East, whether a low yield nuclear strike [would have] sent out a clear message

      The clear message would be that it is OK for any country to use nuclear weapons in any local difficulty.

      And to reinforce that point with the nuclear armed countries in the region, the wind typically blows from the North or North West over Afghanistan, so the radioactive debris cloud activated by your neutron bomb would be carried across the Pakistan and India.

    4. Ken G
      Facepalm

      Re: In real terms

      Sparsely habited mountains bordering Pakistan, China or Iran?

  12. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I opposed British involvement in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in advance. I told you so.

    Our best and brightest don't line up to join the MoD. Nice people mostly, they take the folk too pleasant and honest to work in a jobcentre. If you think, "but national security!", nah.

    I hate the word retard but I have funny stories. A bunch of people I knew tried to break into a nuclear weapons base but were caught at the fence. The MoD plod drove them inside the base to put them in cells, but then accidentally locked themselves in the cells leaving the protesters outside and free to roam the base. I've never actually seen Keystone Cops but it seems an accurate depiction.

    Oh, and "military intelligence", you'd think the creme de la creme, but wishful thinking. It's a safe bet none of them have won a TV quiz show, or even a family game of Triv.

    1. Clausewitz 4.0
      Devil

      Times change, old boy, times change

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