The Defense Secretary has ordered an investigation into a data breach involving the contact details of Afghan interpreters seeking to come to the UK, a government source confirmed.
The Department of Defense (MoD) said it had contacted those affected by the breach, with officials offering advice on how to manage the potential risk posed by the data disclosure.
Some of those whose information has been leaked are reportedly in hiding from the Taliban after militants took control of the battle-torn country last month.
A spokesperson for the department said: “An investigation has been opened into a data breach by the Afghan Resettlement Assistance Policy Team.
“We apologize to everyone affected by this violation and we are working hard to ensure that this does not happen again.
“The Ministry of Defense takes its responsibilities for information and data processing very seriously. “
A source confirmed that Defense Secretary Ben Wallace personally ordered the investigation.
Officials said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the details of the case but, according to the BBC, the breach refers to an email.
The broadcaster reported that more than 250 people seeking resettlement in the UK – many of whom are in hiding – were mistakenly copied into an email from the Department of Defense requesting an update on their situation.
Some of the email addresses were accompanied by photos, according to the report.
Shadow Labor Secretary of Defense John Healey said: “We told these Afghan interpreters we would keep them safe, instead this breach has needlessly put lives at risk.
“The priority now is to urgently step up efforts to bring these Afghans safely to the UK.
“This is the Defense Department’s second major data breach this year, following the discovery of sensitive documents at a bus stop in Kent in June.
“Obviously the Secretary of Defense needs to get his house in order.”
The Defense Ministry has said it will take all necessary measures under UK GDPR rules.