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Chinese Spies Use Fake Facebook Pages to Gain Intel

by John Reed on March 12, 2012

We’re always hearing about high-end cyber epionage but sometimes, enemy spies can steal military secrets without investing a ton of time or money breaking into Pentagon networks. In fact, Chinese spies just used a fake Fasebook account to get personal information from a ton of NATO officials. Yup, Chinese spies set up a face Facebook page for Adm. James Stavridis, chief of U.S. European Command and fooled a bunch of high-ranking military officials into friending the fake admiral and sharing info with them.

This is a pretty common move, just a couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a senior military officer who said that he and his staff had found a fake Facebook profile for him.

From ZDNet:

Late last year, senior British military officers, Defense Ministry officials, and other government officials were tricked into becoming Facebook friends with someone masquerading as United States Navy admiral James Stavridis. By doing so, they exposed their own personal information (such as private e-mail addresses, phone numbers, pictures, the names of family members, and possibly even the details of their movements), to unknown spies.

If you feel like the name is familiar, it should be. Stavridis happens to be the current Commander, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). It’s really no coincidence he was chosen as the one to fake a Facebook profile of.

Stavridis uses Facebook quite a bit. For example, in October 2011 he used his Facebook account to tell the world of his intent to end the organization’s mission in Libya.

NATO officials are reluctant to publicly state who was behind the attack, but The Telegraph says China is to blame. The publication quotes classified briefings in which military officers and diplomats were told the evidence pointed to “state-sponsored individuals in China.” The Guardian agrees, quoting a security source who says “the belief is that China is behind this.”

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