US military leak exposes ‘holy grail’ of security clearance files
NEW YORK — A unsecured backup drive has exposed thousands of US Air Force documents, including highly sensitive personnel files on senior and high-ranking officers.
Security researchers found that the gigabytes of files were accessible to anyone because the internet-connected backup drive was not password protected.
The files, reviewed by ZDNet, contained a range of personal information, such as names and addresses, ranks, and Social Security numbers of more than 4,000 officers. Another file lists the security clearance levels of hundreds of other officers, some of whom possess “top secret” clearance, and access to sensitive compartmented information and codeword-level clearance.
Phone numbers and contact information of staff and their spouses, as well as other sensitive and private personal information, were found in several other spreadsheets.
The drive is understood to belong to a lieutenant colonel, whose name we are not publishing. ZDNet reached out to the officer by email but did not hear back.
The data was secured last week after a notification by MacKeeper security researcher Bob Diachenko.
Among the most damaging documents on the drive included the completed applications for renewed national security clearances for two US four-star generals, both of whom recently had top US military and NATO positions.