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Fakebook: Bogus NATO chief spies on his top-level friends

Published time: March 11, 2012 18:16
Edited time: March 12, 2012 16:09
Snapshot of NATO commander James Stavridis's genuine page on Facebook (Image from facebook.com)

Snapshot of NATO commander James Stavridis's genuine page on Facebook (Image from facebook.com)

NATO commander James Stavridis has fallen victim to spies who created a fake profile on his behalf on Facebook and sent numerous “friend requests” to UK military chiefs. UK media suspect reams of acquired personal data have flown to China.

­The sham account for NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis is understood to have gathered a distinguished company of British high-level military officers and Ministry of Defense officials.

While one might not go looking for sensitive information on a social network like Facebook, the site can certainly give clues to passwords for classified files, as it stores dates of birth, phone numbers and hobbies. It could also help build blackmail or espionage profiles by disclosing names, family members and friends and tracking locations.

NATO caught wind of the fake account late last year and had it deleted from Facebook. But official confirmation of the incident was gained only on Friday night.

"After the profile was reported to us, it was taken down as soon as we were notified and we investigated the issue," a Facebook spokesperson told the Telegraph.

The question of who is behind it all is still open.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that military officers have been told of “state-sponsored individuals in China.” The Observer also points the  finger at Beijing. But a NATO official when asked by the Telegraph to comment was reluctant to confirm this:

There have been several fake Supreme Allied Commander pages. Facebook has cooperated in taking them down. We are not aware that they are Chinese.”

Now Admiral Stavridis, who oversaw the operation which brought down Muammmar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya last year, is running a genuine Facebook account. All NATO’s top staff has been advised to open one in order to avert similar threats.