January 8, 2016 3:17 pm
Updated: January 10, 2016 8:49 am

Military hard drive containing personal information found by Halifax man

WATCH ABOVE: For the third time in just a matter of weeks there is a potential security breach coming to light at a Halifax military base. Global News has learned that a piece of computer equipment was found by a member of the public, and it contained a number of military files and the personal information of some of its members. Global's Natasha Pace has the exclusive story.

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A hard drive containing information believed to belong to the Canadian military is sitting in the closet of a Halifax man.

“It seemed to me like some of the documents contained information on personnel that I probably, or nobody, should be able to access unless they had the proper clearance,” Pete Stevens told Global News Friday.

Pete Stevens found the hard drive nearly a year ago.

Natasha Pace/Global News

Stevens found the hard drive at a recycling depot in Dartmouth almost a year ago. When he finally went to use it, he was surprised by what he found.

“I ran a recovery software and I basically saw some files that, basically, should have been deleted from the previous owner.”

The hard drive contains hundreds, if not thousands of pages of information. According to Stevens, he was able to locate encrypted emails, training manuals and blueprints within minutes of searching the drive.

“I think the biggest thing I was concerned with was actual lists with names on them, and even some security clearance applications that specified who a person was, and who their relatives were and friends, a lot of information that they obviously have to ask for security clearance. But it’s also a lot of information if it goes missing, for someone to have,” Stevens said.

Some of the information found on the hard drive contains the personal information of members of the military.

Natasha Pace/Global News

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Most of the information appears to be from the years 1999-2006 and deals with HMCS Halifax.

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer in Halifax, says no matter how old the information is, it’s not supposed to wind up in the hands of someone without proper clearance.

“When you have sensitive information, there’s a legal obligation to protect it and that obligation is from cradle to grave. It’s from the time the information is collected in the first place and making sure it’s destroyed appropriately,” he said.

Third security issue at CFB Halifax

The military was not aware of the hard drive until they were notified by Global News and have not yet had a chance to examine it. They say they aren’t sure if this was an active hard drive or one that had previously been disposed of.

“Without having an expert sight the drive to verify that the computer and drive are of military origin, and without gaining knowledge of when the computer and drive were taken into possession by your source, and without ruling out theft or even personal property of a military member, I cannot verify the nature of the files contained therein,” said Rear-Admiral John Newton, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic.

This is the third potential security breach to come to light in just a few weeks in Halifax.

Military police in Halifax allege that a web designer working at HMCS Trinity used defence department networks to improperly store more than 1,000 secret documents between 2004 and 2009. The incident became public on Jan. 5.

Just two days later, it was discovered that there were potentially five more breaches of a secure military computer network at the navy’s training school in Halifax.

The Department of National Defence is making arrangements to pick up the hard drive from Stevens.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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