Israel’s Army of Facebook Addicts Battle to Keep Secrets

From the Author:  The 7th Day Return of the Lord stands behind the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)  and are proud of all they do to protect the nation of Israel and their people.  Just thought I would share the article below on how Facebook can be used for good and bad.  In this case sad to say, it has been as a weapon against the privacy of the IDF.  Its an interesting article and shows that measures have been taken to beef up security on such “highly classified” information.

Just for our readers out there, you Facebook users need to assume that anything you post or look at on the site is tantamount to public information.  Despite extensive efforts from both the public and FB to tighten security policies, companies looking to mine the site are constantly finding new ways to infiltrate the network.  From employers to the courts, burglars, advertisers and even insurance companies are working overtime to invade your privacy.


Israelis, soldiers included, are social media obsessives. That’s creating endless new problems for the IDF, which knows the enemy is watching emails, posts and tweets

BY MITCH GINSBURG February 23, 2014, 3:09 pm

Col. (res) Avi Becker, the former head of weaponry at the IDF Computer Services Directorate, put the overall ratio of good to bad at 35:65. He is probably more generous than most. But as the IDF drafts from the civilian pool of a nation that uses Facebook more than any other country in the world (according to 2011 figures), the army has attempted to address the dangers, grapple with the uncertainties and harness the opportunities inherent in social media.

The bad is often highlighted. The halls and bathrooms of the IDF, once the given over to posters featuring Syrian tanks and aircraft, are today lined with notices about the dangers of social media. One ubiquitous placard features a Facebook-like blue banner with mugshots of Bashar Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah. “You have three new friend requests,” it reads.

Beneath the photos, the IDF’s military intelligence writes, “You think everyone is your friend?! The enemy uses social media to collect information about the IDF!”

An IDF warning about the dangers of Facebook (photo credit: Mitch Ginsburg/ Times of Israel)

Over the past several years, the army, which today estimates that 95 percent of its enlisted soldiers and 70 percent of its officers’ corps has a Facebook account, has been forced to address an array of leaks. In 2010, a soldier in the artillery corps posted this status: “Cleaning up Katana and home on Thursday.” Katana is a village in the West Bank. The status revealed the time of the planned raid and the unit involved. The other soldiers in the unit, also apparently glued to their screens, saw the update and, feeling imperiled, Social Media,Israelis,soldiers,Facebook,IDF,enemy is watching,leaks,media obsessives,Israel,West Bank,Bashar Assad,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,Hassan Nasrallah,IDF Militarylet the authorities know. The soldier was dismissed, the raid canceled.

Later that year the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate sent out a bulletin to soldiers featuring photos of drones and other sensitive IDF equipment. The photos were from an official Hamas website, the bulletin said; all had been downloaded from IDF soldiers’ personal Facebook pages.

In October 2012, Walla News revealed that several generals in the IDF General Staff had joined a WhatsApp group in order to streamline unclassified communication and to gossip. Only once it was made clear to the generals that the application was relatively insecure and that their location and mood were easily attainable did they disband the group.

Earlier this month, 12 IAF pilots were found guilty of sharing classified materials such as maps and flight coordinates over their own WhatsApp groups.

‘There have been cases of good-looking women sending unusual, army-related friend requests to pilots’

These transgressions, along with dozens of others that likely go unreported, have led to some far-reaching changes. In June 2013 the head of operations in the IDF’s Operation’s Branch, Brig. Gen. Yossi Strick, issued a new order governing the use of Facebook and other social media. Soldiers serving in highly classified units may not maintain Facebook accounts. Pilots, Special Forces personnel, soldiers in the Military Intelligence Directorate (the IDF’s largest corps), and all officers over the rank of lieutenant colonel may have accounts but may not post pictures of themselves in uniform or identify themselves as soldiers. The remainder are barred from posting pictures or information that reveal classified material but may identify as soldiers online.

A newer IDF poster warning against the dangers of posting classified material on social media sites (photo credit: Mitch Ginsburg/Times of Israel)

The IDF military advocate general’s office and the military intelligence directorate’s department of information security told the army weekly magazine Bamahane that the orders were drafted “in order to avoid an infringement on the soldiers’ freedom of speech” and in order to avoid writing an order “that the soldiers would not be able to abide by.”

In addition the Military Intelligence Directorate’s department of information security acquired technology that searches Facebook and other social media sites in real time and locates security violations. This, along with a 25 percent increase in polygraph testing over the past year and the creation of a hotline that soldiers can call in order to report classified material online and, perhaps, honey traps – there have been cases of good-looking women sending unusual, army-related friend requests to pilots – has led to a 20 percent drop in violations over the past year.

Soldiers, too, report that Facebook warnings have become part of army culture. In Hebrew – not surprisingly – there is an evocative way to say nudge. Lahfor, to dig, is the verb, and a woman who recently completed her service on an air base in the south, in a sensitive intelligence-related position, said in an interview that “they would dig around in our heads every day about Facebook.”

She described weekly meetings about security that inevitably turned toward media. No pictures in uniform, no pictures on the base, no accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, she said. “Sometimes they fish for you online,” she added, “and that’s a jail sentence” if you are caught complying.

‘Trying to stop Facebook is like trying to stop the sea’

Her classified work, she said, was done without a phone, which had to be left outside the office. Being caught with a phone in one’s pocket, she said, was an automatic 21 days without leave.   More>

Read more: Israel’s army of Facebook addicts battles to keep its secrets | The Times of Israel

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