China is ‘using LinkedIn to recruit Brits and get top-secret information’

Chinese spies are reportedly using LinkedIn to recruit British former officials in a bid to get top secret information.

They are said to be trying to get hold of state secrets by recruiting UK defence contractors, civil servants and military and security officials.

Intelligence agents try to pose as legitimate employers by building fake profiles on the networking site to lure them in, the Times reports.

They are said to then offer money, business opportunities and conference fees to former government and private sector workers who have access to classified information.

Trips to China with hotels and expenses paid are also reportedly offered.

Those who held high security clearance in their previous roles are reportedly most at risk by advertising their career history.

Using LinkedIn, the world’s biggest professional networking site, means Chinese agents can carry out the operation at home, it is claimed.

This means there is no threat of any sanctions.

British spooks at MI5 will launch an awareness campaign next month over the issue, the newspaper reported.

It will urge possible targets to be more careful online and tell them to keep an eye out for fake firms contacting them.

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Spies in China are understood to favour LinkedIn, which has 30million users in Britain, according to reports.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, part of MI5, said: “The consequences of engaging with these profiles can damage individual careers, the interests of your organisation and of UK national security and prosperity.”

Former military intelligence officer Philip Ingram said he was approached online to do some work for a security firm based in Shanghai.

He told the Times he was asked to produce a report about how the UK dealt with counterterrorism issues and he quickly grew concerned.

Paul Rockwell, the head of trust and safety at LinkedIn, said: "We actively seek out signs of state sponsored activity and quickly take action to protect members.

"Our threat intelligence team removes fake accounts using information we uncover and intelligence from a variety of sources including government agencies.

"We enforce our policies: fraudulent activity with an intent to mislead or lie to our members is a violation of our terms of service."

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