Australia’s spy agency, ASIO, has launched a public campaign warning the public about the risks of social media connections.
The Think Before You Link campaign highlights how malicious actors, including foreign spies, are targeting people through online services, particularly LinkedIn, to gain access to sensitive information.
A key message of the campaign is for users to be cautious about the information they share on LinkedIn about the skills they have, the projects they are working on and the teams they are associated with.
While the campaign is primarily targeted at government and defence contactor employees with security clearance, ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess said the campaign’s broader message is aimed at the wider community.
“Our message is a cautionary tale for all Australians—be mindful of what personal information you choose to post online. You could be targeted for information that, if shared, could have serious consequences for Australia’s security, its economy or your business.”
The promotional video features a case study of ‘Jack’ who is approached by ‘Emily’, a foreign spy posing as a corporate recruiter who is fishing for classified information.
ASIO’s campaign is not the first time the agency has warned about the risks of revealing too much information on LinkedIn, warning in its annual report last year that ‘hostile intelligence services’ were targeting people in sensitive positions.
Foreign spies are targeting Australians online—be aware, be discreet and be responsible; if you are concerned, report suspicious activity to #ASIO.— ASIO (@ASIOGovAu) November 16, 2020
Think Before You Link: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
📘 Read more at https://t.co/Aj5IJjPNrz pic.twitter.com/t0pZAIssjn
Last year, malicious players posing as recruiters working for US defence contractors were able to breach a number of European companies through a combination of connections through fake accounts and subsequent phishing attempts sent over Linkedin's messaging service.
Fake social media profiles are not new or restricted to LinkedIn. In 2011, senior British military officers and Defence Ministry officials were tricked by alleged Chinese spies into becoming Facebook friends with someone masquerading as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.
“When it comes to online targeting by foreign spies, Australia is not alone. Citizens across the world face similar threats. We are working with our partners in the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand who have developed similar campaigns.
"Be assured we’re not telling people to stop using social media and professional networking sites. We understand these are an important part of how we live and work. We’re simply asking people to be aware of the risks, to think about what they are putting online, and take action if they suspect they are being targeted.
"The information we’ve prepared is designed to start the conversation. The message is simple: be aware that foreign spies are targeting Australians online, be discreet about your access to sensitive information, and be responsible — please report suspicious activity that concerns you."