In many ways, it's one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it's being used in a very modern way. I'd like to think that most people realize that the super hot girl you meet on the internet is likely not super hot and probably not even a girl. But apparently, the Taliban is cleverly (?) fooling Australian soliders into giving away intel with fake Facebook profiles tied to buxom blonde bombshells.
The report comes from the Australian government, who says that Australian soliders have been tricked with "fake profiles - media personnel and enemies create fake profiles to gather information. For example, the Taliban have used pictures of attractive women as the front of their Facebook profiles and have befriended soldiers."
For the Taliban, creating the fake profile is easy. A quick Google image search for "pretty girl" and a few minutes signing up on Facebook and they're in. All that has to be done is to send out a bunch of friend requests and hope at least a couple bite.
Of course, it's easy to see why being Facebook friends with the enemy can be dangerous. Not only does it allow access to confidential information that could jeopardize operations coming from the solider his/her self, but also private info from friends and family members of the soldiers.
The Department of Defense report also warned about geo-tagging. Since Facebook posts (photo uploads, as well) can be tagged with a location, the chances of one soldier giving up the exact whereabouts of an entire troop is greatly increased through social media.
"Most did not recognise that people using fake profiles, perhaps masquerading as school friends, could capture information and movements. Few consider the possibilities of data mining and how patterns of behaviour can be identified over time," said the report.
It's not just Australians that are being warned about the dangers of social media use during combat. Earlier this year, the U.S. Army warned soldiers about geotagging, citing an actual example where geotagged photos led to an attack on a U.S. base in Iraq back in 2007.[via News.com.au]