German intelligence claims China is using LinkedIn for espionage
German intelligence claims China is using LinkedIn for espionage
LinkedIn Espionage German Intelligence Cautions Chinese Intelligence
11 December, 2017, 17:21
China's Foreign Ministry has denied German allegations that Beijing recruits potential intelligence informants through fake social media profiles.
Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV, alleges that the Chinese dummy accounts posed as consultants, policy experts, scholars and headhunters and targeted up to 10,000 German citizens.
Germany's domestic security agency has warned that Chinese intelligence has been creating fake social networking profiles, particularly on LinkedIn, to gather information about German politicians and officials.
"Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way", including seeking data on users' habits, hobbies, and political interests, they said. "Social networks, especially LinkedIn, are being used in an ambitious manner to gather information and for recruitment", said Maassen, reportsthe Financial Times. He told the BBC that it is a "road-based attempt to infiltrate in particular parliaments, ministries and government agencies".
According to him, these fake accounts are trapping high-ranking German politicians into unwittingly selling them information about the country.
"The infections are hard to detect, since network connections between service providers and their customers aren't suspicious".
Example of these fake profiles include headhunters called Rachel Li and Allen Liu, a thinktank manager called Laeticia Chen, and a character called Jason Wang who wants to "improve communication and cooperation between France, the European Union and China".
The agency is increasingly anxious that Chinese intelligence is using the method to recruit high-ranking politicians as informants. The BfV published the names of eight of the profiles it claimed were set up for the goal of surveillance and infiltration, adding that it suspected there were many more.
In addition, Chinese hackers increasingly are launching attacks on European companies through trusted suppliers, he alleged. A spokesperson reportedly said: "There could be a large number of target individuals and fake profiles that have not yet been identified".
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