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[ISN] Backpack bungle as Defence aide allows spies to steal portable drive


By Dylan Welch
November 4, 2011

AN aide de camp working for Australia's most senior military officer in the Middle East had an encrypted classified thumb drive stolen while travelling through Kuwait last year, in a major security breach for Defence.

A subsequent investigation found it was likely the USB drive was either stolen by, or ended up in the possession of, a foreign intelligence service.

The compromise of the classified material - which included ''Australian Eyes Only'' Defence documents of the commander of Australian military operations in the Middle East, Major-General John Cantwell - was described as a ''major security incident'' by Defence.

It is one of a series of thefts and losses revealed in Defence Security Agency investigation reports between 2008 and last year, obtained by the Herald under freedom of information laws.

''The loss of the USB was a deliberate theft and not accidental,'' the investigation report states.


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