David Petraeus, the director of the most powerful intelligence organization in the world, could not keep his secret a secret and now he has lost his job.
Aware of the severity if a person were to uncover the extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, Petraeus had gone to creative lengths to cover his tracks.
Transmitting emails back and forth to one another's email inbox will instantly offer a simple and easy IP address trace to identify the parties involved. Aware of the dangers, Broadwell opted to circumvent the risk with a less vulnerable method of leaving messages saved in draft instead. Then, Petraeus could see the messages via logging into the same account and reading the drafts.
However, when Paula Broadwell had begun to send threatening emails to a Florida socialite named Jill Kelley, The FBI managed to track the origin of the mail straight back to her and even gained access into Broadwell's multiple email accounts thanks to a warrant. Just like that, the authorities also managed to stumble upon an account consisting of a thread of drafts between Petraeus and Broadwell, giving the FBI more than they bargained for.
Essentially, if it weren't for an investigation on Jill Kelley's behalf, the secret affair would not have become national news today. Unfortunately for covert cheaters, the "draft drop-box" method itself is not fail safe either. Just as Google assisted the FBI with IP information to lead the investigation to Paula Broadwell, the act of merely logging into the account can already provide a viable IP trace.
Thanks to that email blunder, David Petraeus promptly resigned from his post on November 9, 2012.
While Petraeus-gate has found its spot in infamy due to the reputation of the man involved, it isn't the first time that mistakes on the internet had caused severe consequences.
Here are five other internet blunders that have caused severe consequences:
1. Elmo uh-oh
Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo for "Sesame Street" since 1985, was accused of having sexual relations with an underage boy this week. E-mail communications between Clash and the accuser, now 23-years-old, were uncovered by the authorities including a particularly racy email sent by Clash. Kevin Clash and Elmo has since taken a leave of absence.
"Sesame Street" says, "Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so." In addition, "Sesame Street" has also reprimanded Clash for the unauthorized use of company email.
48-year-old Holy See computer technician Claudio Sciarpelletti was hired for the Vatican's Secretariat of State. Earlier this week, Sciarpelletti was convicted for helping a former papal butler to leak confidential papal documents that revealed evidence of serious corruption in high ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy.
Sciarpelletti claimed he played no role in the leak but is suspended with a two-month sentence.
The leaked documents were later used by an Italian journalist to write a book alleging the corruption.
3. Wrong Person
The Stoke-on-Trent City Council was responsible for exchanging details regarding the care and health of three children and two adults regarding a child protection case. However, the email was sent to the wrong recipient, causing a critical breach in privacy.
The Stoke-on-Trent City Coucil has been fined £120,000 last month for the error and additional security measures have been placed in the system to prevent further incidents from happening.