British spies were yesterday accused of giving gifts to Chinese agents and threatening national security by boasting of secret work on LinkedIn.

A Daily Mail investigation reveals that military counterintelligence officers and GCHQ analysts are among more than 1,000 people who have become potential targets by disclosing their status in breach of government guidelines.

Employees who pass advanced background checks — financial, family and sexual history background checks — can access information marked “Top Secret.”

A Daily Mail investigation reveals that military counterintelligence officers and GCHQ analysts are among more than 1,000 people who have become potential targets by disclosing their status in breach of government guidelines. File photo used above

The classification applies to material that could harm national security, cause loss of life and paralyze the economy.

It comes as MI5 director-general Ken McCallum last week warned of a “staggering” threat from China, whose meddling in Britain’s affairs has led to a sevenfold increase in spying investigations.

He also noted the risk of sites such as LinkedIn being used to target government officials, businesses and academics.

A mail check revealed that enemy operatives have a stockpile of easy targets, with 1,242 UK workers sharing their check status on LinkedIn. These include:

  • A former RAF communications specialist who conducted top secret briefings for GCHQ, MI6 and NATO;
  • Senior manager of the Navy’s global T-26 program, which is building a frigate designed to hunt Russian nuclear submarines;
  • Test pilot of the F-35B fighter jet, which is the UK’s primary strike aircraft for the next three decades;
  • A rocket engineer who openly bragged about signing the State Secrets Act.

The Mail found these pages through a search for public LinkedIn pages accessible to anyone worldwide. While there are concerns about Russian espionage, intelligence agencies are most concerned about China’s activities.

Mr McCallum said MI5 had doubled its capacity to tackle Beijing’s spies and warned it would have to step up again to stop China stealing the “crown jewels” from UK businesses and institutions.

He said MI5 was investigating 100 “intelligence leads” from the app, which was launched in May to thwart foreign spies using online sites to recruit government officials, businesses and scientists.

The Think Before You Connect app helps potential targets do their own “digital check” before accepting unknown contacts online.

Professor Anthony Gliss, an intelligence expert at the University of Buckingham, called the revelations “shocking” and called LinkedIn “one of the most serious threats to national security at the moment”.

He added: “If I was working for Russian military intelligence, I would use everything I could to find out more about things like Britain’s drone and anti-aircraft missile programmes. LinkedIn would be an obvious first step, as it will help you find people who know these programs intimately.

“These people freely and foolishly reveal their expertise to our enemies.”

It comes as MI5 director-general Ken McCallum last week warned of a

It comes as MI5 director-general Ken McCallum last week warned of a “staggering” threat from China, whose meddling in Britain’s affairs has led to a sevenfold increase in spying investigations. He also noted the risk of sites such as LinkedIn being used to target government officials, businesses and academics. File photo used above

One profile belonged to a senior officer in the 16th Airborne Assault Brigade, an elite unit believed to be on standby in case troops are sent to hostilities in Ukraine.

He said he was “looking for a new role that plays to my strengths in research, analysis, communication and leadership in the UK or Germany”.

Another was a telecommunications expert responsible for “delivering the next generation of electronic surveillance platforms to the British Army”.

Others were a network engineer who helped implement MoD cyber security measures and a naval officer who oversaw a £300m signals intelligence programme.

The Mail also used LinkedIn to identify 14 members of the Ministry of Defense unit working around the clock to keep the Ukrainian military informed of the Russian invasion in real time. They include a drone surveillance expert, a cyber security specialist and an artificial intelligence developer.

Several profiles linked to online resumes with cell phone numbers and mailing addresses that former military intelligence colonel Philip Ingram called “an open target for spies.”

He said: “Publicizing your access to state secrets is idiotic. I once had a Chinese spy try to make me a LinkedIn asset by pretending to be a businessman who needed me to write an article on counterterrorism and security. The goal was to build rapport and eventually request more confidential information.

“I was able to identify what was going on because I worked in counterintelligence for many years. This is not a luxury that many people have.

“You wouldn’t tell a stranger in the supermarket your home address, phone number and security clearance status, so why would you do it online?”

A government spokesman said: “We do not comment on individual references.”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11000381/Spies-UK-risk-bragging-LinkedIn.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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