Files detailing a secret U.S. intelligence collection program have leaked online, according to new report, marking just the latest embarrassing security lapse involving U.S. spy agencies.
The program, led by U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, a division of the National Security Agency, was supposed to help the Pentagon get real-time information about what was happening on the ground in Afghanistan in 2013 by collecting data from U.S. computer systems on the ground, according to tech news site ZDNet. But the agency killed the initiative in 2014 because of technical problems that it described in the leaked documents as “a major hindrance to operations.”
The files show that the program, called Red Disk, was intended to handle and transfer documents, videos, and audio between intelligence employees.
Over the past several years, the NSA has come under fire following leaks starting in 2013 when Edward Snowden revealed agency information showing widespread surveillance of phone call data and emails.
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The documents reviewed by ZDNet were left on a public Amazon Web Services (AWS) Web server with no password protection. It’s unclear how or why they were left unsecured.
Security researcher Chris Vickery, from a firm called UpGuard, discovered the data trove, totaling about 100GB, in October and subsequently told the U.S. government about it. The information has since been secured, but it’s unknown how many people downloaded it.
Aside from information about Red Disk, the files included other classified information, including how the U.S. military can target possible terrorists with weapons. It also included security keys that would give users access to servers operated by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to ZDNet.