The Department of National Defence has just completed an investigation into a military hard drive that was found by a Halifax man more than a year ago.
Pete Stevens got the hard drive from a recycling depot in Dartmouth, and when he ran a software recovery program on it, he discovered it belonged to the military and contained sensitive information.
“It was discovered that the hard drive was inappropriately used to store some information,” National Defence spokesperson Captain Cameron Hillier said Tuesday.
“The information contained on the hard drive was considered low-level classified.”
Officials have confirmed to Global News that the drive came from a computer on HMCS Halifax, likely in 2006.
Among its contents was unencrypted personal information about many military members.
“You can store some protected information on an unclassified system, but it requires a specific encryption code and a card to access those files and it’s specific to each user. That process was not followed in this particular case,” Hillier told Global News.
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The discovery of the drive is the latest in a series of security breaches at military bases in the Halifax area. The incidents have caught the attention of Canada’s defence minister, who says they are constantly reviewing security procedures.
“The military takes breaches very seriously,” said Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan. “We make sure there are measures in place to prevent any type of breaches.”
The military won’t say what kind of reprimand will take place for the individual who improperly stored information on the drive.
“We are locating persons who are improperly storing information and we are addressing that. There is not any light consideration. These types of activities have severe consequences to the members, their jobs or even their careers,” said Hillier.
Officials say they have changed their protocols and now have different policies in place for destroying hard drives. Once a hard drive is taken out of operation, it is stored at a military facility. Once there is enough collected, the hard drives are taken to an incinerator and destroyed.
READ MORE: Navy finds five more breaches of secure network at CFB Halifax training school
The military says it is taking steps to revamp protocols and is working to ensure an incident like this never happens again.
But the Department of National Defence is asking anyone who may find classified or sensitive military information to hand it over to police.