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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Expose: China’s cyber spying plot targets German politicians

German intelligence service warned on Sunday

Share on Facebook December 12, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 401

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BERLIN, Germany - In a stern warning, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, known as BfV has accused China of running a cyber spying operation targeting German politicians. 

Germany’s intelligence service warned on Sunday that China is using fake profiles on social networks to gather personal information from politicians and other high ranking officials.

According to BfV, more than 10,000 Germans were contacted by fake profiles on the social networking site LinkedIn during a nine months investigation into the large-scale security breach.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency further revealed that the fake profiles were disguised as headhunters, consultants, or scholars with names "Rachel Li" and "Alex Li", and attempted to trick people into “connecting” with them in order to extract information on people’s habits, hobbies and political interests.

A spokesperson of the intelligence agency said, "Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way.”

The agency further noted that many of the profiles deliberately used photos of stylish and attractive men and women in order to encourage people to befriend them. 

According to one report, one of the photo was even allegedly taken straight out of an online fashion catalogue.

BfV said that the fake profiles also falsely claimed to have jobs at organisations including RiseHR, a Dutch human resources firm, and the Center for Sino-Europe Development Studies, an academic think tank.

According to reports, many of those targeted were connected to senior diplomats and politicians across Europe. 

The BfV said that there were a “large number” of such fake profiles and issued a warning to German citizens to report suspect social media profiles.

The agency is also said to have warned German public officials to be wary about leaking valuable personal information through social media.

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of BfV said in a statement, “This is a broad-based attempt to infiltrate in particular parliaments, ministries and government agencies.”

The expose by BfV comes at a time when concerns about covert tactics allegedly used by Chinese intelligence agents to secure protected data and personal information have grown in Western intelligence circles.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Chinese hackers had targeted U.K. firms to steal sensitive data including personal information and intellectual property.

According to a report authored by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and cyber units at defence group BAE systems and accountancy firm PwC, a China-based cyber gang, named APT10, was found to have used customized malware and "spear phishing" to target an "unprecedented web" of victims.

In July this year, a think tank called the Henry Jackson Society warned the personal data of thousands of British citizens could be trawled through by spies in Beijing as the U.K. sells off sensitive high-tech industry to Chinese investors. 

BNN

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