Aussie Spies Blab on Social Media

You know how companies are all worried that their employees are going to accidentally (or deliberately) reveal some crucial corporate secret on social media?  Well, the same concerns apply to national security -- at least in Australia, and probably elsewhere.

An investigation by Australian news outfit Fairfax Media found that over 200 Aussie intelligence officers had disclosed information about their classified employment on social media sites including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. In some cases, their disclosures were limited to the mere fact of their employment by a government intelligence agency, but in some cases they revealed considerably more.

According to the Fairfax report, “One former officer of the Defence Signals Directorate has illustrated close co-operation between DSD and allied signals intelligence agencies” simply by listing the locations he worked, which included a posting to the U.S. National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland and two government communications facilities in Britain.

Other Australian signals officers revealed cooperation with intelligence agencies in Canada and New Zealand (for all the conspiracy theorists out there, New Zealand supposedly hosts a satellite communications base that is part of the international electronic eavesdropping network known as “Echelon”).

Earlier this month I wrote about the risk of cyber-warfare using data gleaned from social media, which could, for example, help enemy intelligence agents impersonate friendly personnel to sabotage military operations. One Australian analyst recommended that new military recruits should be forced to delete their social media profiles to limit the security risk posed by this information. Mark Gregory, a senior lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, was quoted as saying: “Every power builds up profiles of the people who lead other militaries. That's just the Rules of War 101. Warfare is going to be about impersonating people and convincing others to carry out tasks based on false information.”

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