LinkedIn used by ‘hostile actors’ to search for sensitive information online, warns MI5
LinkedIn has been used by “criminal and hostile actors” to approach at least 10,000 people over the past five years, according to UK intelligence agency MI5. These anonymous âactorsâ, masquerading as recruiters, often connect with people who have or have access to valuable and sensitive information. They then present these people with lucrative opportunities, but the real intention is to collect so much information from the target, said the Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), the arm of MI5 that advises the government and the communities. protective security companies. CPNI has launched a campaign – Think Before You Link – to educate government officials about this threat.
CPNI has said that engaging with such online profiles can be detrimental to individual careers, organizational interests and can jeopardize the national security and prosperity of the UK. CPNI added that sometimes these handles approach the target with “unique” business opportunities. In addition to government employees, people working in the private sector and universities with access to classified or commercially sensitive technology or research may also be approached by such elements, the CPNI warned.
The campaign asks government staff or officials to focus on several factors when it comes to their engagements with anyone online. It is important for staff to recognize whether a profile is “malicious” and the “potential threat” it may pose, says CPNI. He also instructed employees to report suspicious profiles to a security official and then remove him from their list.
The UK is not the only country to have faced such a problem. In May 2019, a former CIA officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison following his conviction in a spy case. Kevin Mallory, 62, was convicted of selling classified US “defense information” to a Chinese intelligence agent for $ 25,000 (around Rs. 18 lakhs) during his trips to Shanghai in 2017.
Although neither the intelligence agency nor the CPNI cited a social media platform, the BBC reported that it was LinkedIn, where these handles approached people with sensitive information.
Welcoming CPNI’s efforts, LinkedIn said its teams are working to keep the platform safe so that real people can connect with professionals they know and trust.
âWe are actively looking for signs of state-sponsored activity on the platform and are taking swift action against bad actors to protect our members,â he said in a statement. The platform further stated that its Threat Intelligence team removes fake accounts using the information it uncovers and intelligence from various sources, including government agencies.
“And we apply our policies, which are very clear: fraudulent activity with the intention of misleading or lying to our members is a violation of our terms of service,” he concluded.
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