London: UK is in security alert after Facebook spies created false profile for top NATO chief Commander James Stavridis to steal personal data from his high-ranking friends, a media report on Monday said.
NATO's most senior commander has been embroiled in a major security alert after a fake Facebook account was set up in his name by "Chinese spies".
Senior British military officers and Ministry of Defence staff are understood to have accepted 'friend requests' from a bogus account for NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Stavridis, the Daily Mail reported.
"In the mistaken belief they had linked up with the American admiral on the site, they then unwittingly provided a treasure trove of personal details - including pictures, phone numbers and email addresses," it said.
The daily said NATO will not officially say who was behind the cyber-fraud or who accepted friend requests but "it is understood that evidence points to Chinese state-sponsored hackers".
Admiral Stavridis led the operations in Libya to bring about the end of Muammar Gaddafi regime now has an official Facebook page, while the bogus one has been permanently deleted from the internet.
Officials at SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, confirmed the admiral had been targeted.
"This type of compromising attempt is called 'social engineering' and has nothing to do with hacking or espionage," an unnamed NATO spokesman was quoted as saying.
"Discussions/chats/postings on Facebook are of course only about unclassified topics," he added.
The Indian Army had earlier asked its officers and personnel to remove all the pictures and information showing their affiliation to the service from their personal profiles on social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Orkut.
In a recent case, four Navy officers have been indicted by an inquiry for leaking information on Facebook and action has been recommended against them.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Orkut, and Twitter have emerged to be the popular choice of keeping in touch with friends in the armed forces.
The Army and the other two services have been issuing circulars and advisories in this regard.
First Published: Monday, March 12, 2012, 21:20