The Dutch general intelligence and security service AIVD is launching an awareness campaign this week to warn about Linkedin-mediated corporate espionage, FD reports (link in Dutch). The AIVD told the business publication that Chinese and Russian spies used fake accounts to approach thousands of employees at Dutch high-tech companies on the networking site. A number of these contacts has been successfully manipulated to share trade secrets, either through deception or blackmail.
Many people accept Linkedin connection requests without giving it much thought. Once the connection is made, the spy may try to flatter his target, for example by requesting a task that suggests respect for his expertise and experience. Next, a personal meeting may follow, for example at a conference. In other cases, the spies hide behind a fake recruiting agency.
“Social networks like Linkedin or Instagram are constantly copied and stored in databases. They analyze these to put targets in their sights. They’re talking about people who have access to special technological knowledge. The data is combined with information from outright hacks in their organization, looking for specific personal data,” AIVD director-general Erik Akerboom told FD. From these analyses, the most promising targets are identified.