Government app aims to help civil servants identify foreign spies on LinkedIn

Written by Sam Trendall on 23 May 2022 in News

Software released by CPNI is intended to enable website users to spot the estimated 10,000 malicious approaches made each year

Credit: PxHere

The government has unveiled a new app to help civil servants and other citizens identify foreign spies using fake LinkedIn profiles to try and connect with senior officials and business leaders across the UK.

The software was launched by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, which claimed that, in the past year, 10,000 UK nationals have been targeted by malicious approaches on social or business networking sites.

Such approaches are made by “foreign spies and other malicious actors”, many of whom target “current and former civil servants”, according to the CPNI.

The app, which is available for free via both Apple and Google app stores, forms part of the centre’s ‘Think Before You Link’ campaign. The program provides “an interactive guide to the campaign [including] a series of lessons”.

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Other features of the app, which government said were informed by behavioural scientists, include “a profile reviewer, which will help individuals identify potentially fake profiles and report anything they deem suspicious”.

Steve Barclay, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and government’s lead cybersecurity minister, said: “The online threat via social media is increasing, with fake profiles on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook being created on an industrial scale. Many of these profiles are established as an elaborate ruse for eliciting details from either officials or members of the public who may have access to information relating to our national security. It is therefore crucial that we do all we can to protect ourselves and our information, ensuring those who we connect with online are who they say they are. This new app will be an important tool in that endeavour.”

The CPNI is a government agency dedicated to providing security advice to organisations that support the UK’s national infrastructure: including the people, facilities, information, and cyber networks that support 13 core sectors: government; defence; health; emergency services; transport; energy; communications; food; finance; water; chemicals; civil nuclear operations; and space. The centre works with various other public bodies, including the Cabinet Office, GCHQ and the Security Service – otherwise known as MI5, to whose director general, Ken McCallum, it is accountable.

McCallum said: “Foreign spies are actively working to build relationships with those working in government, in high-tech business and in academia.  The Think Before You Link app helps those who may be receiving disguised approaches, helping them to conduct their own digital due diligence before accepting unknown contacts online.”


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on

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