Facebook and other social media sites are likely to jeopardise the operations of Aussie Diggers in Afghanistan, according to a new government review that assessed the impact of popular social networking websites to the country's Afghan Mission.
The federal report has admitted that Australian defence personnel and soldiers were not sufficiently oriented on how they should behave while using their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
It could be that service members or even members of their families were sharing too much online, which could serve as mine of information for enemies tech-savvy enough to decode intelligence even from what appears as innocent musings in a Facebook status.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the government review lamented that "many individuals who use social media are extremely trusting," and such element could easily be capitalised by the Taliban, which remains locked in a bitter 11-year insurgency with NATO troops for control of Afghanistan.
"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," The Telegraph reported the review as saying on Sunday.
The review has decried that some 58 per cent of all Australian Defence personnel operating in Afghanistan were mostly clueless on how to effectively safeguard their privacy, with the apparent risk further heightened by the parallel social media activities of their families back home.
Specific guidelines must be formulated that would serve as the bible for Aussie Diggers, including their friends and family members, to conduct themselves appropriately while socialising in the cyber world, the report said.
It is expected that something concrete on the matter would be finalised by December, according to the Defence Ministry, which mostly a manual that would encourage Aussie service members and their close associates to protect crucial information such soldiers' name, ranks and their deployment location.
These actions are needed, the review said, as the level of privacy protection currently offered on sites like Facebook and Twitter were below par in so far as the requirements of the Defence Ministry is concerned.
The new guidelines should also deter efforts by the insurgents to obtain information from Aussie soldiers who previously may have been duped by fake Facebook accounts that were actually maintained by Taliban operatives, the government review said.
"For example, the Taliban have used pictures of attractive women as the front of their Facebook profiles and have befriended soldiers," the review said, citing instances in the past.
Such tactics could have been helpful for the insurgents in planning their attacks like when a rogue Afghan Army member shot to death three Diggers in late August. The soldiers were killed while resting or during their most unguarded moments, leaving the impression that the insider attack was amply aided by 'good intelligence' on the part of the Taliban.
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