WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The US National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center discovers an increasing number of Chinese spy agencies creating fake accounts on LinkedIn to extract confidential information.
- These spies are attempting to convince people with links to national and commercial secrets to reveal that information.
- LinkedIn, with the help of the US government, said it deleted about 40 accounts with suspicious activities.
Microsoft-owned employment-oriented network, LinkedIn, is on a more watchful mode as the US National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center reported that they’ve found several fake accounts. These accounts were created by Chinese spy agencies trying to convince individuals with access to government secrets to divulge information.
There are approximately 150 million US-based users in LinkedIn’s social network, and they claim to have more than 562 million users around the world. The number of accounts that US counterintelligence discovered remains uncertain.
But LinkedIn confirmed that it has been working with the US government and has since removed 40 accounts after the suspected spy activity on their network.
The Chinese campaign was described as “super aggressive” by William Evanina, head of US counterintelligence, in an interview with Reuters. To be sure, it’s rare for a top US government official to publicly name a specific American-owned company and command it to act.
In 2017, a case began when former CIA officer Kevin Mallory said that the Chinese were attempting to gain information by recruiting him through a LinkedIn message. One vital information that he left out, however, is that he was given $25,000 in exchange for classified documents.
Mallory was an easy target for the Chinese at that time, given that he was three months late on paying for his mortgage debts. He was convicted earlier this year for top-secret US security clearance violation.
“This is no longer an issue for watercooler-fodder and it can’t be left to ivory tower contemplations,” wrote retired US admiral James Stavridis, dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of International Affairs.
In 2017, Stavridis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that despite the billions of dollars being spent by both public and private sectors on online security, the US is not fully-equipped for this new digital battleground.
America’s vulnerability has been exposed to fighting off cyber attacks as it becomes increasingly commonplace nowadays through social media platforms.