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Belgian Spies Out Themselves On Facebook

Someone needs a lesson in operational security:

The identities of several Belgian intelligence workers have been exposed, but it wasn’t rival spies who blew their cover. The workers listed the Belgian State Security Service as their employer on Facebook and LinkedIn, the Brussels-based paper De Standaard reports. The security service hasn’t confirmed if the profiles are real, and Facebook in particular requires no proof of workplace. But in interviews with De Standaard, both a Belgian senator and a security service spokesperson expressed concerns about the profiles, suggesting they might be authentic.

Apparently this is an issue here in the U.S. as well:

More than 200 LinkedIn users identify themselves as Central Intelligence Agency employees, including a number of analysts, operatives, and at least one cook. (One woman, a self-identified intelligence analyst at U.S. Central Command in Florida, lists “national security” and “counterterrorism” among her skills — she has peer endorsements in both.) In France, a number of Facebook users claim to work for the General Directorate for External Security and list their languages, educational background and marital status publicly. Similarly, Foursquare records 500 self-reported ‘check-ins’ at Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service by 142 users.

 Someone needs to tell these people that the operative word in “secret agent” is secret.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    Suddenly Petraeus makes a lot more sense.

    The compulsion towards self-promotion and narcissism tends to trump discretion, no matter how high the stakes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Jen says:

    Not everyone who works for the Central Intelligence Agency is a covert operative. I can see the logic in being on LinkedIn for job duties such as recruitment, etc. I’d also wager some of them might be joke profiles.

    However, for anyone in a capacity where they are handling sensitive information, whether it’s analysts or, for crying out loud, operations, common sense really should prevail. And I’m really surprised that the agencies involved aren’t monitoring for that sort of thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. DC Loser says:

    There are entire groups on LinkedIn geared towards the Intelligence Community. As Jen states, 90% of intelligence agency employees are overt and do not have to conceal their employers. When they take out loans or fill out other official documents, they list their employers on the forms. Employees are just told to use common sense when posting information online. Places like LinkedIn are just a new reality for professionals seeking to network for future jobs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. RobZ says:

    Every covert agency probably wants to have a few honeypot accounts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Jeremy says:

    Belgium has an intelligence service? Who knew?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Hal 10000 says:

    One again, Lone Star, we see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0