The United Kingdom has waged a war against Chinese propaganda and Chinese spies dwelling inside their traditional borders. Now, China is using the biggest professional platform – LinkedIn, to recruit spies in the UK.
According to reports in the UK, Chinese spies are using LinkedIn to recruit British former military and security officials by offering money in an attempt to obtain state secrets. They are said to be trying to get hold of state secrets by recruiting UK defence contractors, civil servants, and military and security officials.
According to the Times, Intelligence agents try to pose as legitimate employers by building fake profiles on LinkedIn to lure them in. They then offer money, business opportunities and conference fees to former government and private-sector workers who have access to classified information. Trips to China, hotels and their expenses are also reportedly offered.
The most targeted officials are those who’ve had high-security clearances and who showcase their careers on the platform. Moreover, as these spy recruiters are based out of China, this effectively means that sanctions cannot be imposed.
Besides, spies in China actively use LinkedIn because of its 30 million-strong userbase in the country.
Philip Ingram, a former military intelligence officer, said that he was approached by a security firm in Shanghai back in 2017. He added that he quickly grew concerned over the interests of the firm when he was asked to produce a report about how the UK dealt with counterterrorism issues.
LinkedIn’s head of trust and safety, Paul Rockwell said, “We actively seek out signs of state-sponsored activity and quickly take action to protect members, as was the case in this instance.”
He added, “Our threat intelligence team removes fake accounts using the information we uncover and intelligence from a variety of sources including government agencies.”
Noting the graveness that these actions by China can have on national security, British spooks at MI5 will launch an awareness campaign next month over the issue. It will urge possible targets to be more careful online and tell them to keep an eye out for fake firms contacting them.
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, part of MI5, said, “The consequences of engaging with these profiles can damage individual careers, the interests of your organisation and of UK national security and prosperity.”
The Chinese have a bad record of snooping on other countries and their civilians. Using a global social platform like LinkedIn to recruit spies is another trick in its playbook and it is not ashamed to use it.
The Chinese are hiding in plain sight, carrying out illicit activities and the world needs to take notice of the growing intrusion of China and its snooping activities in other countries. In other words, China must be held responsible and restrained before it’s too late.
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