January 5, 2016 11:48 am
Updated: January 5, 2016 3:41 pm

Rear Admiral confirms ‘data spill,’ downplays HMCS Trinity security breach

HMCS Trinity is pictured here on January 5, 2016.

Rebecca Lau/Global News

HALIFAX – The Royal Canadian Navy’s East Coast boss is downplaying the extent of a security breach at HMCS Trinity, the military’s principal East Coast intelligence centre.

Military police in Halifax allege a web designer, working at the naval security operation, used Defence Department networks to improperly store more than 1,000 secret documents between 2004 and 2009.

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A search warrant says police seized four hard drives and a laptop computer from the office of a man identified only as Mr. Zawidski following a complaint about a possible security breach.

Rear Admiral John Newton confirmed what he calls a “data spill,” from a secure network to an un-secure network, all within the Department of National Defence (DND) server system.

But, Newton says the civilian employee involved meant no harm.

“There is no intent here that’s been investigated by police,” he said.

“It is a human error of handling a system and moving data from a classified to an unclassified system. We could not detect or find that information on our unclassified system if you went casually looking for it, or even, determinedly looking for it.”

The allegations come nearly two years after naval intelligence officer Jeffrey Delisle was convicted of copying secret computer files at HMCS Trinity and selling them to Russia between 2007 and 2012.

Closer watch after Delisle scandal

Newton says the latest date breach was actually uncovered because of extra scrutiny, following the Delisle scandal.

“The actual material is old, that was uploaded, and the material was detected by us during routine scanning of our network’s processes set in place after the Delisle case to detect such infractions. So, we used the tools that came out of Delisle and detected the upload,” he told Global News.

Newton rejects a call from a former C-SIS agent for an inquiry into data security in the DND.

But, speaking at the Halifax Navy dockyard Tuesday as HMCS Fredericton was deployed for six months in the Mediterranean Sea, he said the department will review training and education to minimize future risks.

“The very security of the ship that just sailed, her success on missions, depends [on] that we handle this information well and we will look at the educational, the human factors, elements, to make sure people with that kind of access can’t make those kind of mistakes again.”

Newton says, as far as he knows, the employee will not face charges.

With files from The Canadian Press.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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