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Government launches new app to help public dodge spies

Government launches new app to help public dodge spies

The government has launched a new spy detecting app, which will help members of the public dodge espionage and stay safe online.

The launch of the Think Before You Link app comes as the threat of foreign spies remains persistently high in the UK. In the last year, over 10,000 Brits have been targeted on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. In the first half of last year alone, LinkedIn stopped 11.6m fake accounts at registration.

Current and former civil servants can also be attractive targets because of their experience and if their positions are listed on sites such as LinkedIn, with this carrying the risk of fake offers of lucrative consultancy work if they connect with unknown users.

New research released today by the University of Portsmouth suggests that around 16.8m LinkedIn users in the UK may have accepted unknown contacts and that awareness of the potential threat from state actors using fake profiles is lower than other potential online threats.

“Foreign spies are actively working to build relationships with those working in government, in high-tech business and in academia”, Director General of MI5 Ken McCallum said.

When asked specifically about fake profiles and the motives of perpetrators more generally, users of LinkedIn and Facebook were most likely to think of trolling (80 per cent), fraud (80 per cent) and fake news (79 per cent), rather than economic espionage (64 per cent).

The app will therefore boost the support and advice which government staff and particularly those working on sensitive policy, already receive.

The app will also allow users to conduct their own digital due diligence and boost awareness of the growing threat from digital espionage to UK citizens.

The new app is part of the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure’s (CPNI) ‘Think Before You Link’ campaign. It has been developed with behavioural scientists to include features such as a profile reviewer, which will help individuals identify potentially fake profiles and report anything they deem suspicious.

The app is free to download on the Google Play or Apple store from today.


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