An online scam has been exposed in which senior British military and government officials were tricked into becoming Facebook friends with someone masquerading as U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander and lead officer on the Libyan mission, thereby exposing their own personal information to unknown hackers.
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.
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. NATO has advised senior officers and officials, including Admiral Stirvis to open their own social networking pages to prevent a repeat of such incident.
the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (Shape), confirmed Admiral Stavridis had been a target. A spokesman for Shape said: "This type of compromising attempts is called 'social engineering' and has nothing to do with 'hacking' or 'espionage'."
The scams also cast light on the productive use that can be made of so-called “spear-phishing,” or targeted messages from a source the victim actually knows. A common example is an email that looks like it came from a person’s bank, asking for account numbers and passwords.
The hackers were traced to China and investigators found the attacks only took place on week days between 9am and 5pm, suggesting they were working at an office or a government facility.
Dmitri Alperovich, a security expert who helped uncover the "Night Dragon" breach, says Western businesses and governments are 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?... If they know your strategy they can't lose."