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Revealed: U.S. Navy Admiral's Facebook Account Was Faked by Alleged Chinese Spy, NATO Officials Friended

"The Chinese are using every trick in the book."

An impostor, allegedly from China, posed as U.S. Navy Admiral on Facebook, sneakily becoming friends with NATO officials to potentially glean sensitive information, according to the Telegraph.

The Telegraph reports that some members of the British military and Ministry of Defense accepted friend requests from American Admiral James Stavridis, who is the current Commander. It was recently revealed that the content on this Facebook page, all of which seemed legitimate, was "harvested" to create a profile that Stavridis never had in the first place.

The Telegraph has more on what is thought to be the work of a Chinese spy:

Nato officials are reluctant to say publicly wo was behind the attack. But the Sunday Telegraph has learned that in classified briefings, military officers and diplomats were told the evidence pointed to "state-sponsored individuals in China".

Although they are unlikely to have found any genuine military secrets from the Facebook accounts they accessed , the incident is highly embarrassing.

[...]

Senior Nato staff were warned about the fake account late last year and made representations to Facebook.

It is understood that Facebook uses very sophisticated techniques to identify bogus accounts which, it says, have very different footprints to genuine Facebook users.

A spokesman said: "After the profile was reported to us, it was taken down as soon as we were notified and investigated the issue."

Because Stavridis didn't have his own Facebook page before this incident, the Telegraph reports that NATO is advising other officials to create pages to avoid a similar falsification in the future.

The Guardian reports a NATO spokesman as saying that the organization is frequently in contact with Facebook over fake profiles, which are removed within 24 to 48 hours. The official said NATO wants to make it clear, so the public isn't misinformed, that the citizens can trust and have faith the policy announcements and other updates they see on the social media site. Stavridis, for example, used Facebook last year to announce that the conflict in Libya had ended.

Both the Guardian and Telegraph liken this attack to the "Night Dragon" attacks in 2011, which duped executives in oil and gas companies into disclosing sensitive information. The Telegraph goes on:

The attacks infiltrated the energy companies computer system and looked for how the firms operated.

[...]

The hackers were traced to China, to Beijing and investigators found the attacks only happened on week days between 9am and 5pm local time suggesting they were working at an office or a government facility.

Security expert Dmitri Alperovich, who helped uncover the "Night Dragon" breach, says Western businesses and Government are all routinely being targeted.

He said: "They will know your strategy, your price list, everything to undercut and beat you. The Chinese are using every trick in the book.

"They stole emails between executives about high level negotiations. They are stealing their negotiation playbook and then they outbid them. If they know your strategy they can't lose."

Recently, The Blaze reported on statement by the FBI director Robert Mueller who said that cyberattacks are becoming more concerning for the United States country -- even more so traditional acts of terrorism. Mueller said there are two kinds of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be hacked. He states that the FBI has stepped up efforts to counter cyber-threats.

[H/T Gizmodo]

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