Last year, senior British military officers, defence Ministry officials, and other government officials were tricked into becoming Facebook friends with someone masquerading as the current Commander of the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, exposing personal information to unknown spies, ZDNet reports.
United States Navy Admiral James Stavridis – who was in charge of operations in Libya against Colonel Gaddafi’s– now has an official Facebook page, while the bogus one has been permanently deleted, but officials are worried about the photos, phone numbers and email addresses that were compromised, The Daily Mail reports.
Thankfully, it is unlikely those responsible got hold of any real military secrets. While the discovery was made months ago, it only became public knowledge last weekend.
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) officials confirmed their commander had been targeted. “This type of compromising attempts are called ‘Social Engineering’ and has nothing to do with ‘hacking’ or ‘espionage’, a SHAPE spokesperson said in a statement, according to the Guardian. “Discussions/chats/postings on Facebook are of course only about unclassified topics.”
“First and foremost we want to make sure that the public is not being misinformed. Social media played a crucial role in the Libya campaign last year… It was a real eye-opener. That is why it is important the public has trust in our social media.”
NATO officials say they do not know who was behind the ploy, but The Telegraph has allegedly learned that in classified briefings, military officers and diplomats were told the evidence pointed to “state-sponsored individuals in China.” NATO has since asked senior officers to open their own Facebook pages to prevent a recurrence. It has also awarded a £40 million ($62.5 million) contract to a major defence company to bolster security at the organisation’s headquarters and 50 other sites across Europe, according to the Guardian.
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