A CBC investigation discovered that storage devices containing top secret information including electronic warfare data were lost by two Canadian frontline naval vessels over the past 2 years.
The public broadcaster cited internal security assessments and reported that all USB sticks, DVDs, backup hard drives had gone missing from vessels on Thursday, despite tightening security procedures following an espionage scandal almost a decade ago.
This first incident occurred in August 2020 and concerned data regarding the HMCS Fredericton. That frigate is reportedly deployed in support of NATO’s ‘Operation Reassurance’ in Eastern Europe.
According to CBC searches did not turn up any DVDs missing that were believed to contain highly valuable material. “sensitive” information – including data on threat emitters, which are electronic devices used by the ship’s systems to identify and help counter incoming missiles.
“The possibility of uncontrolled disclosure cannot be ruled out, however it does not appear inappropriate disclosure took place,”An assessment was made. CBC reports that an internal investigation determined the loss of data could have a severe impact on the national interest.
During routine security audits of the HMCS Montreal, a hard drive that stored secret high-frequency communications was lost earlier this year. The Department of National Defence (DND) confirmed the breach to the outlet, which noted that two USB sticks also went missing from the frigate’s security safe during the incident.
The DND claimed to have later recovered the USBs – one of which is understood to have contained technical manuals about an unspecified weapons system. However, the DND said that the manuals are outdated.
After the breach in mid-October, materials went missing for six weeks. This prompted an investigation by military police. But an unnamed DND spokesperson told CBC on Tuesday that the hard drive was recently found in the vessel’s secure emergency radio room. According to the outlet, there is no explanation for how it came up in this location. “obvious location.”
Although the lapse was attributed to poor accounting, Canada’s armed forces chief General Wayne Eyre told CBC News in a recent interview that he was concerned by both incidents and said the military must become “much more security conscious.”