How a Simple Typo Exposed US Military Secrets to Mali (and How to Avoid It)

Imagine sending an email with confidential information to the wrong person, just because you typed one letter wrong.  That’s what happened to the US military, who for over 10 years have been sending millions of emails to Mali, a West African country allied with Russia, instead of their own .MIL domain according to an article from The Verge.

soldier sending email mistakes with a spy looking over his shoulder  In the article, according to a report by the Financial Times, these emails contained medical records, identity documents, naval inspection reports, travel itineraries, and more.  Some of them even revealed the room numbers and key collection details of General James McConville, the US Army’s chief of staff, during his visit to Indonesia!

How did this happen?  It’s all because of a typo.  Instead of appending the .MIL domain to their recipient’s email address, people frequently typed .ML, the country identifier for Mali, by mistake.  And since Mali’s domain was managed by a Dutch entrepreneur, who set up a system to catch these misdirected emails, he was able to intercept them and warn the US government.

But his contract with Mali ends soon, and then the authorities in Mali will be able to access the emails.  This could pose a serious threat to US national security, especially since Russia has established a presence in Mali through the Wagner Group, a state-backed paramilitary organization that is accused of supplying weapons to Ukraine.

So how can you avoid making such a costly email mistake?  One way is to use Safeguard Send for Microsoft 365, an add-in for Outlook that helps you prevent sending emails to the wrong recipients.  Safeguard Send lets you set up rules and warnings for specific domains, keywords, attachments, and recipients.  For example, you can create a rule that alerts you whenever you try to send an email to a .ML domain instead of a .MIL domain, or if you try to send an email to a .CON domain instead of a .COM domain, or anytime you send an email outside your organization.

Safeguard Send Logo  With Safeguard Send, one of the best parts is that you can also confirm each external recipient before sending an email, check for sensitive attachments or content, and review your email before sending it.  Safeguard Send works with Outlook 2010 or later, as well as Microsoft 365.  It’s easy to install and configure, and it can be centrally managed for large organizations through the use of a dashboard for admins.

Don’t let a typo ruin your reputation or compromise your security.  Try Safeguard Send today and see how it can help you send emails with confidence and peace of mind. Visit for more information and a free trial/demo.