Foreign spies are targeting officials on various social media sites on “an industrial scale”, the MI5 chief has warned.
Security Service Director General Ken McCallum said more than 10,000 “covert approaches” were made by officers seeking to establish rapport with their targets.
Fake profiles are set up by foreign spies like LinkedIn and Facebook on an “industrial scale” as a way to target government officials, tech companies and academics.
These accounts are created to establish relationships between spies and officials as a ruse to obtain national security information.
Current and former public servants are considered attractive targets because of their experience.
Government launches new app to tackle fake social media profiles
To help target the problem, the government’s Center for National Infrastructure Protection has launched a new app.
The app aims to help prevent people from being duped by these fake accounts.
Mr McCallum said: ‘MI5 has seen over 10,000 disguised approaches on professional networking sites, from foreign spies to people across the UK.
“Foreign spies actively work to build relationships with those in government, high-tech companies and academia.”
The Think Before You Link app is designed to help those who receive disguised approaches conduct their own “digital due diligence” checks before accepting unknown contacts online.
The new app will work with the current guidance and support that government staff, especially those working on sensitive policies, are already receiving.
Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor Steve Barclay, Minister for Cybersecurity, said: “The online threat via social media is growing, with the creation of fake profiles on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook on an industry scale.
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“Many of these profiles are established as an elaborate ruse to extract details from officials or members of the public who may have access to information relating to our national security.
“It is therefore crucial that we do all we can to protect ourselves and our information, ensuring that those we connect with online are who they say they are. This new application will be an important tool in this company. »
We can see this online threat growing when we look at a report from LinkedIn which found that 11.6 million fake accounts were blocked at the registration stage in the first six months of 2021.
The networking site has banned fake profiles and also requires its members to be “real people who represent themselves accurately and contribute authentically.”
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This notice was published: 2022-05-16 23:01:00