A New App Helps Identify Online Spies
Published: May 18, 2022
According to MI5, 10,000 British nationals have been the target of fake profiles on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
The app is called Think Before You Link, and it is meant to help people spot when someone suspicious approaches them on social media.
Spies trying to access sensitive information is not something new, but social media and the internet, in general, have consistently allowed this to happen.
These spies don’t have to think about how to approach their victims in real life. They can do that at a distance now. At first, they would ask for information that is not that sensitive before escalating.
In case studies by the UK government, different approaches in which people are approached have been mapped out. In one example, a civil servant with a security clearance was approached by someone pretending to be from a think tank.
The civil servant and the spy had a shared contact on the social network, so the profile appeared real. And it’s alarming that the number of such approaches is increasing, reaching over 10,000 people in the last year.
The director-general of MI5 said that foreign spies are actively working on building relationships with people who work in government, academia, and high-tech companies.
With the new app by the UK government, British nationals will be able “to conduct their own digital due diligence before accepting unknown contacts online.” Everyone can access the app, but it’s mostly aimed at those who work in the most sensitive industries.
China is thought to be behind most of these campaigns, even though it hasn’t been mentioned directly.
The app works by letting its users test whether a profile is fake through a series of questions, especially designed by behavioral scientists.
The app will assign low, medium, or high-risk profiles with features such as reverse image search and earning badges. Users will get the recommendation to report it for medium and high-risk profiles.
It’s the latest effort by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure’s (CPNI) Think Before You Link campaign.