If you’re an Australian working in government, the defence industry or even academia – beware, foreign spies may be out to get you.
Sound like paranoia or someone’s been watching too many James Bond movie reruns?
Perhaps. But the usually secretive Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the nation’s internal spy agency, thinks there’s enough of a threat for it to come out of the shadows and launch its first public awareness campaign.
Understand malicious online approaches
The campaign, called ‘Think Before You Link’ aims to raise awareness of the threat of malicious social media profiles and educate current and former security-clearance holders to understand the signs of a malicious approach online.
Think before you link to unknown people or profiles, is the message. And pause before you post professional and personal information online.
Because it may be used by foreign spies, or others with nefarious aims, to identify and then target you.
Former CIA officer was recruited online
Sound far-fetched? Recently a former CIA officer in the US was convicted of espionage after being recruited via the online business network, LinkedIn.
In an interview with ABC News, ASIO Director-General, Mike Burgess, said foreign intelligence agencies were known to target Australians through social media and professional networking platforms if they believed they may give up sensitive information.
“As my mum always used to say, ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably is’,” Burgess told the broadcaster.
“Now that might sound a little … paranoid, but actually if someone is offering something really good and you don’t really know who it is, you might want to pause and think.”
Use social media with caution, says agency
Social media and online networking have changed the way we connect with friends and build our professional lives, ASIO explained in a statement. While social networks play an important role helping us keep in touch, they can also pose a significant security risk if not used with caution.
“Consider carefully what information about you is available online, and how this could contribute to you or your colleagues being targeted or placed in a situation that could harm you, your friends, your employer and, ultimately, Australia’s national security.
“Ordinary and seemingly harmless post updates and new contacts can give identity thieves, cybercriminals and foreign agents information to steal your identity or discover important data they can use against you.”