UK Secret Weapons Revealed by PDF Redaction Flaw

It’s an ancient vulnerability, really a terrible design flaw in a product, that keeps coming back no matter how many stories like this one are in the news.

Secret plans for a suite of enhanced weapons, potentially for use by Britain’s Special Forces, have been revealed in an astonishing new security blunder by defence officials.

Details of research into the next generation of munitions appeared to have been safely redacted in a document marked ‘Official Sensitive’ and posted on a Government website.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that simply by copying and pasting the text, every blanked-out detail can be read.

This would have been a big story in the early 2000s but 20 years later? That’s a very long time in tech.

It reads to me like the UK military lost an envelope of secret documents when it fell out of their horse’s unlocked saddle bag (true story).

Come on people, it’s 2021 and we’re still talking about redaction flaws? This is what a similar news story sounded like in 2005:

Italian media have published classified sections of an official US military inquiry into the accidental killing of an Italian agent in Baghdad.

A Greek medical student at Bologna University who was surfing the web early on Sunday found that with two simple clicks of his computer mouse he could restore censored portions of the report.

For what it’s worth, Adobe gives long and complicated training on how to redact properly.

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