LinkedIn has been used by “criminal and hostile actors” to reach at least 10,000 people in the last five years, according to the British intelligence agency MI5. These anonymous “actors”, posing as recruiters, often associate with people who have or have access to valuable and sensitive information. They then provide such individuals with lucrative opportunities, but the real intention is to gather as much information as possible from the target, said the Center for National Infrastructure Protection (CPNI), MI5’s management, which advises government and business on security. CPNI is now launching a campaign – Think Before You Link – to spread awareness among government officials about this threat.
CPNI said that engaging in such profiles online could harm the individual’s career, the interests of the organization and could compromise the national security and prosperity of the United Kingdom. CPNI added that sometimes these handles come close to the goal with “unique” business opportunities. In addition to civil servants, people working in the private sector and academia with access to classified or commercially sensitive technology or research may also turn to such items, CPNI warned.
The campaign calls on government officials or employees to focus on several factors in terms of their engagements with each online. It’s important for staff to recognize if an account is “malicious” and the “potential threat” it may pose, CPNI said. He also asked employees to report suspicious profiles to a security manager and then remove him from their list.
Britain is not the only country to have faced such a problem. In May 2019, a former CIA employee was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of espionage. Sixty-two-year-old Kevin Mallory was convicted of selling classified US “defense information” to a Chinese intelligence agent for $ 25,000 (approximately 18 rupees) during a trip to Shanghai in 2017.
Welcoming CPNI’s efforts, LinkedIn said its teams are working to keep the platform a safe place for real people to connect with professionals they know and trust.
“We are actively looking for signs of state-sponsored activity on the platform and are swiftly taking action against bad participants to protect our members,” the statement said. The platform also said that the Threat Intelligence team removes fake accounts using information it discloses and intelligence from various sources, including government agencies.
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