The US soldier charged with copying more than 150,000 classified files earlier this week pulled off the scam using simple blank CDs.
Pentagon officials told the New York Times that Private Bradley Manning managed to sneak the classified documents out of his intelligence unit on discs disguised as music CDs.
Former hacker Adrian Lamo confirmed to the Times that Manning had told him he had acquired the information in this way. Lamo said Manning claimed to have lip-synched to non-existent music to help fit in.
While the defense department prevents the use of thumb drives in the Pentagon and armed services computers for security reasons, no such restriction is currently placed on the use of CD drives with write capability.
Manning, who has been arrested for allegedly supplying to Wikileaks a video of a helicopter attack in Baghdad which killed at least two civilians, also leaked at least 50 confidential diplomatic cables to people “not entitled to receive them,” prosecutors allege.
Many of these contained private information about the inner workings of American embassies.
At least one of these cables – the only cited by name in the charges – was later also published in Wikileaks.
The revelation could spark a sweeping review of security measures in intelligence operations. In a news conference, Pentagon officials said they would only conduct one if Manning's activities were found to be representative of a larger problem.