MI5 have issued a warning stating that foreign spies may be using LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, to create fake accounts to contact people working for the government, to get them to reveal secret information.

 

MI5 Director Ken McCallum claimed that over 10,000 UK nationals have already been targeted in this manner over the last five years, with the fake profiles being linked to hostile states. He also said that the fake profiles are being used on an industrial scale.

As part of the warning, MI5 are running a campaign to remind government workers of the dangers of linking to people online and giving any type of details away, called ‘Think before you link’. The campaign asks staff to consider the ‘4 Rs’ when they are connecting with people online:

  • Recognise malicious profiles
  • Realise potential threat
  • Report suspicious profiles to a security manager
  • Remove the profile from your account

Malicious threats of this type have increased since the start of the health pandemic, with more people working from home using their own devices and internet provider - rather than the more secure IT infrastructure they would usually be using at their workplace.

LinkedIn have responded to the issue by releasing a statement saying:

'Teams at LinkedIn work to keep LinkedIn a safe place where real people can connect with professionals they know and trust.

'We actively seek out signs of state sponsored activity on the platform and quickly take action against bad actors in order to protect our members.

'Our Threat Intelligence team removes fake accounts using information we uncover and intelligence from a variety of sources, including government agencies.

'Our teams utilize multiple automated techniques, coupled with human reviews and member reporting to maintain LinkedIn as a safe and trusted platform. And we enforce our policies, which are very clear: fraudulent activity with an intent to mislead or lie to our members is a violation of our terms of service.'

Social media accounts are often targeted for fraudulent purposes and people are becoming increasingly aware of this, but now it is also being used for spying purposes, so it is important to keep the information you share online to a minimum.