How a Chinese Agent Used LinkedIn to Spy on U.S. Companies
No wonder LinkedIn is one of the few western social media sites not blocked in China! Checkout this story…
Jun Wei Yeo, a freshly enrolled PhD student, was no doubt delighted when he was asked to give a presentation to Chinese academics in Beijing in 2015. His doctorate research was about Chinese foreign policy.
After the presentation, Jun Wei (known to friends as Dickson) was approached by a man who said he worked for a Chinese think tank. He said they wanted to pay him to provide “political reports and information.” Yeo quickly realized the man was actually a Chinese intelligence agent, but he remained in contact with them anyway. He was first asked to focus on countries in Southeast Asia, but later, his contacts’ interest turned to the U.S. government.
No wonder LinkedIn isn’t blocked in China
That was how Dickson Yeo set off on a path to becoming a Chinese agent—one who would end up using LinkedIn, a fake consulting company and a cover posing as a curious academic in order to lure American targets. Former government and military employees and contractors aren’t shy about publicly posting details of their work histories on LinkedIn to obtain lucrative jobs in the private sector. This presents a potential goldmine to foreign intelligence agencies. William Evanina, the nation’s counterintelligence chief, has warned of “super aggressive” action by Beijing on LinkedIn, which is one of few Western social media sites not blocked in China.
So, what happened?
Recently, Yeo pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to being an “illegal agent of a foreign power.” The 39- year-old faces up to 10 years in prison. Yeo made his crucial contacts using LinkedIn, the job and careers networking site used by more than 700 million people.
The moral of the story, no matter who you work for or what you do: be very, very careful when approached on LinkedIn with an opportunity!
© National Security Institute, Inc. www.nsi.org
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