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Air Force Engineer Suspected in Communications Breach

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An investigation is underway into what the Pentagon is calling a “critical compromise” of communications across 17 Air Force facilities and a potential breach of FBI communications by an Air Force engineer working at the Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee. 

According to a search warrant obtained by Forbes, a contractor tipped off the government that the engineer, 48, allegedly had taken home Air Force radio technologies worth nearly $90,000 for his own use. 

Law enforcement officials, when raiding the man’s home, found that he had “unauthorized administrator access” to radio communications technology that is used by the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), “affecting 17 DoD [Department of Defense] installations,” the warrant said. 

The Pentagon says the AETC is one of nine major commands that are “interrelated and complementary, providing offensive, defensive, and support elements” to the Air Force’s headquarters. 

The warrant said witnesses and co-workers told the investigators that the engineer had “sold radios and radio equipment, worked odd hours, was arrogant, frequently lied, displayed inappropriate workplace behavior and sexual harassment, had financial problems, and possessed [Arnold Air Force Base land mobile radio] equipment.”

A colleague also reported him twice because of unauthorized possession of Air Force equipment and “insider threat indicators,” the warrant said. 

One document, detailing technologies seized from the man’s home, reported he had a USB that contained “administrative passwords and electronic system keys” for the AETC radio network, while other flash drives contained programming files for local law enforcement agencies. 

Another USB drive contained “Motorola radio programming files” that flashed a warning banner when opened noting they were government property.

The search further revealed installer files, that came with a “confidential restricted” pop up when they were opened. 

Forbes did not report the suspect’s name, as he has not yet been charged, and said he has not responded to a request for comments. 

The investigators determined that he was allegedly operating Motorola radio programming software containing the whole communications system for Arnold Air Force Base. 

The officials also claimed to find evidence that the engineer may have had access to FBI communications, as well as those for several Tennessee state agencies. 

The government, which did not respond to Forbes’ request for comment, did not reveal what information was taken in the breach, which comes three months after Air National Guard employee Jack Teixeira was charged with leaking sensitive information about the war in Ukraine through the social platform Discord.

Teixeira pleaded not guilty in June, and the DOD has said it is making plans for improving its security measures. 

The search warrant in Tennessee noted the FBI is working with the Air Force on the investigation.


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