The West African nation of Mali has been receiving sensitive emails intended for the US military since 2013, according to an entrepreneur managing the country’s domain.
Dutchman Johannes Zuurbier says he has a record of over 100,000 emails inadvertently sent to Mali over the last six months alone, with close to 1,000 of them arriving on a single day. According to the Financial Times, these include financial and medical data, as well as military maps.
This month, Zuurbier has written to U.S. officials advising them to take action, especially since control of the domain has now passed to the Malian government. In his letter, he notes that the emails could potentially be “exploited by adversaries of the US”. To make matters worse, Mali is an ally of Russia, which has been heavily sanctioned by the US and other Western nations since its invasion of Ukraine last year.
The cause of this issue? A simple typo. US military email accounts end with the suffix .mil, but by leaving out a single letter, it appears that millions of the documents have been misdirected to the .ml domain, which is the international top-level domain for Mali.
The mistake shows the importance of taking care when sending emails. When search engines like Google are still likely to direct users to what they are looking for even if they make minor typing mistakes, this is not the case with email, where mistyping one letter can end up with an email not being sent or, worse still, being delivered to the wrong account.
At Engage Web, we have experience of managing email campaigns that reach your target audience and don’t end up in the wrong country. Speak to our team today if you’d like to set one up.