According to the head of the FBI's intelligence branch, about 70 percent of China’s overall espionage efforts target the U.S. private sector. And while North Korea, Russia and Iran also use LinkedIn, it has been discovered that China recently made an unprecedented push to recruit experts in nuclear energy, stealth technology and super-computing using the professional networking platform.
Chinese espionage agencies have emerged as the most prolific user of fake LinkedIn profiles and utilize false business propositions or bribery to engage professionals, scientists and academics. The goal is to gain government or commercial secrets.
Online platforms - especially Linked In, whose users are often looking for jobs - make counter-intelligence even more challenging. Twitter, Google and Facebook have all deleted fake accounts allegedly developed by Iranian and Russian intelligence agencies, and LinkedIn is being asked to follow suit with broader efforts.
Takeaway: It is a good practice to scrutinize contacts from headhunters that reach out via LinkedIn--especially if you have scientific or language proficiency or have worked in positions at government agencies or corporate product development.
While counter-intelligence and law enforcement authorities are working with LinkedIn on procedures to take down fake profiles associated with foreign spy agencies, it won't stop the effort. The platform is too rich for those with ulterior motives.