Publication:

The Mail on Sunday - 2021-10-10

Data:

SAS secrets revealed – by cut-and-paste error

Qatar: The Toxic World Cup

By Brendan Carlin and Mark Hookham

THEY’RE our elite fighting force but it seems even the world-beating SAS can be outwitted by a simple pen-pusher’s error. Secret plans for a suite of enhanced weapons, potentially for use by Britain’s Special Forces, have been revealed in an astonishing new security blunder by defence officials. Details of research into the next generation of munitions appeared to have been safely redacted in a document marked ‘Official Sensitive’ and posted on a Government website. But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that simply by copying and pasting the text, every blanked-out detail can be read. Tory MP and former Army officer Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the weapons appeared to be destined for use by UK Special Forces. The Ministry of Defence last night said it was taking action to correct the security breach after this newspaper alerted officials to the blunder. The MoD announced last week that a new contract had been signed with an engineering firm that specialises in the use of explosive materials. The Mail on Sunday has chosen not to reveal details of the research. The lapse is the latest in a series of embarrassing security gaffes to rock the department this year, including a data breach of email addresses of dozens of Afghan interpreters who had worked with British forces and were at risk from the Taliban. Former Labour Defence Minister Kevan Jones branded the latest foul-up ‘farcical’, saying the MoD was turning into the ‘Ministry of Data Blunders’. Mr Ellwood condemned it as an ‘astonishing breach of security standards’ and called on Defence Secretary Ben Wallace ‘to ascertain how many other documents have been redacted and published in a similar way’. Last night, Mr Ellwood said: ‘It is evident this contract relates to highly technical weapons systems that will be used by our Special Forces. And when new kit is brought on line, it introduces new tactics and protocols, which again give our elite forces the edge over adversaries. That is why details are redacted.’ The MoD last night said it took data security very seriously, adding: ‘Due to a technical issue some redacted material was readable. This has been addressed.’

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