Foreign Spies Using Networking Sites to Groom UK Officials: MI5

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Foreign spies person extended their acheronian arts to the satellite of online networking sites and are targeting politicians, concern chiefs, and academics, the caput of Britain’s information work has warned.

Ken McCallum, manager wide of MI5, said hostile agents are utilizing alleged “disguised approaches” connected an concern standard to physique relationships  to summation nationalist information information.

Current and erstwhile civilian servants were premier targets due to the fact that of their experience, and those successful in high-tech businesses and successful academia were besides singled retired for grooming.

“Foreign spies are actively moving to physique relationships with those moving successful government, successful high-tech business, and successful academia,” McCallum said.

He added, “MI5 has seen implicit 10,000 disguised approaches connected nonrecreational networking sites from overseas spies to radical up and down the UK.”

Spooks with phony accounts are operating connected LinkedIn and Facebook connected an “industrial scale” the authorities warned.

Concerned by the threat, the UK government’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure has launched a caller app called Think Before You Link to impulse imaginable targets to behaviour their ain “digital owed diligence” earlier accepting chartless contacts online.

The app volition boost the enactment and proposal that authorities staff, peculiarly those moving connected delicate policy, already receive.

“The online menace via societal media is expanding … Many of these profiles are established arsenic an elaborate ruse for eliciting details from either officials oregon members of the nationalist who whitethorn person entree to accusation relating to our nationalist security,” said Steve Barclay, the authorities curate liable for cyber security.

He added: “It is truthful important that we bash each we tin to support ourselves and our information, ensuring those who we link with online are who they accidental they are. This caller app volition beryllium an important instrumentality successful that endeavour.”

The authorities cited a LinkedIn study which showed 11.6 cardinal fake accounts were stopped astatine the registration signifier successful the archetypal six months of 2021.

A LinkedIn spokesperson said, “Our Threat Intelligence squad actively seeks retired signs of authorities sponsored enactment and removes fake accounts utilizing accusation we uncover, and quality from a assortment of sources, including authorities agencies.”

LinkedIn logo The logo for LinkedIn Corporation is shown successful Mountain View, Calif., connected Feb. 6, 2013. (Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Though the authorities did not sanction immoderate peculiar nations involved, it is wide accepted China and Russia put importantly successful online spying utilizing fake accounts.

China was singled retired precocious for hiding spies successful plain sight, aft it was claimed a lawyer, Christine Lee, circulated wide wrong Parliament, befriending a fig of MPs.

In January, MPs were warned to debar interaction with Lee, 58, who had been monitored by the information services for immoderate time.

MI5 said Lee had “facilitated” donations to British governmental parties and legislators “on behalf of overseas nationals.”

It is alleged Lee works for Beijing’s United Front Works Department, which operates successful parallel with China’s much accepted espionage operations.

Such subtle power was among the topics successful the 2021 publication “Hidden Hand” by Australian academics Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg, which details the Chinese Communist Party’s planetary programme of power “and subversion,” and the menace galore judge it poses to democracy.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Peter Simpson


Peter Simpson is simply a British writer who has worked for large planetary quality media and spent a decennary covering China from Beijing, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, during which helium broke galore exclusives. He is funny successful each facets of the Sino-UK narration and geopolitics. Other interests see sport, business, culture, and travel.