Chinese Communist Party Using LinkedIn To Gather ‘State Secrets’


The Chinese Communist Party is using platforms such as LinkedIn to gather “state secrets” from Westerners. 

“Spies are creating fake business profiles on the professional networking site so that they can identify targets and obtain classified information. Sources warn that they have offered lucrative business opportunities and enticing sums of money to lure present and former government and private sector workers with access to classified information or commercially sensitive technology,” The Times summarizes.

The story highlights the experience of 56-year-old Phillip Ingram, a former colonel specializing in cyberintelligence work and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, conversing with an account under the name of “Robin”;

Ingram said: “There was nothing on his profile that suggested which company he worked for, just generics. That seemed odd.” As the conversation continued Robin’s requests became more concerning. He said that “we would want to get inside information that isn’t easily accessible to anyone”. When Ingram pushed for more detail Robin said: “You can guess the sort of stuff I’m after.”
Ingram had already guessed that the profile had been faked by a Chinese intelligence officer before Robin said that Ingram would be required to travel to China to present his report. “I said I’d rather meet in London but he refused,” Ingram said.
His suspicions were confirmed when Robin suggested that they switch to an encrypted email service that could not be accessed inside China except by intelligence services. Robin emailed him on it within ten minutes.
“At that stage I was 99.99 percent sure it was someone linked to the Chinese government,” Ingram said. “It was classic recruitment. If I’d decided to go to China they’d have sent me back to get other bits and pieces. They’d have effectively recruited an agent. If I went and I wasn’t co-operative, or they weren’t certain I was in their back pocket, they would have engineered activities to gather compromising material for blackmail.”
The British government is set to launch a campaign to inform citizens of the national security risks posed by LinkedIn and opportunistic Chinese Communist Party assets.

Natalie Winters

Natalie Winters is freelance reporter.

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