Social networking sites are used by foreign spies to target thousands of government officials, businesses and scientists.

This is a warning from MI5 CEO Ken McCallum, who said: “MI5 has seen more than 10,000 disguised approaches on professional networking sites from foreign spies to people in the UK.”

The government has said that sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook are creating fake profiles on an “industrial scale”, many of which are used to obtain information on national security.

Mr McCallum added: “Foreign spies are actively working to build relationships with those who work in government, in high-tech business and in academia.”

Digital Verification

He said the Think Before You Link app helps those who can get masked approaches, conduct their own “digital due diligence” checks before accepting unknown contacts online.

The app, which aims to prevent people from cheating with these fake accounts, was launched by the government’s Center for National Infrastructure Protection.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay, the minister responsible for cybersecurity, said: “The Internet threat through social networks is growing, and fake profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are being created on an industrial scale.

“Many of these profiles have been created as a sophisticated trick to obtain details from officials or members of the public who may have access to information concerning our national security.

“So it’s important that we do our best to protect ourselves and our information by ensuring who we connect with online, who they claim to be. This new app will be an important tool in that effort.”

11.6 million fake accounts have been suspended

A LinkedIn report shows that 11.6 million fake accounts were terminated during the registration phase in the first half of last year.

A LinkedIn spokesman said: “Our threat intelligence team is actively looking for signs of state-sponsored activities and deleting fake accounts using the information we disclose and intelligence from a variety of sources, including government agencies.

“Our Transparency Report identifies actions we take to keep LinkedIn in a safe place where real people can connect with professionals they know and trust, including 97% of the fake accounts we deleted were blocked during registration. .

“We welcome the continued efforts of the UK National Infrastructure Protection Center.”

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