Monday, March 12, 2012

Spies fool senior defense officials into friending fake Facebook account

A lesson learned: don't friend "just anyone" on Facebook, as they may not be who you think they are. In this case, spies opened a fake Facebook account for NATO's supreme allied commander, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, and fooled senior British officers and defense officials into "friending" it, which means they had access to private email addresses, phone numbers and photos.

The story certainly has to be embarrassing, although it is unlikely any real secrets were obtained.

Although NATO is unwilling to discuss the matter further, red-faced as they probably are, it's been learned that in classified briefings, diplomats and military officials were told the evidence pointed to the activity being the action of "state-sponsored individuals in China" (i.e., Chinese spies).

In the wake of the incident, NATO has advised senior officers and officials to open their own social networking accounts to preclude another such event. Stavridis now has his own an official Facebook account and the bogus one has been deleted. Facebook said, "After the profile was reported to us, it was taken down as soon as we were notified and investigated the issue."

The incident occurred in late 2011, but NATO officials first confirmed the incident on Saturday.

Notably, officials at SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, while admitting the incident, said that "Discussions/chats/postings on Facebook are of course only about unclassified topics."

Find a lawyer!
That said, once someone friended the fake account, a potential treasure trove of personal information would have been available to the people behind the faux account, such as personal email addresses, dates of birth, images and more.

No comments: