The story is an old one, but the tech gives it a bunch of new twists:
Gemma Brett, a 27-year-old designer from west London, had only been working at Madbird for two weeks when she spotted something strange. Curious about what her commute would be like when the pandemic was over, she searched for the company’s office address. The result looked nothing like the videos on Madbird’s website of a sleek workspace buzzing with creative-types. Instead, Google Street View showed an upmarket block of flats in London’s Kensington.
Using online reverse image searches they dug deeper. They found that almost all the work Madbird claimed as its own had been stolen from elsewhere on the internet—and that some of the colleagues they’d been messaging online didn’t exist.
At least six of the most senior employees profiled by Madbird were fake. Their identities stitched together using photos stolen from random corners of the internet and made-up names. They included Madbird’s co-founder, Dave Stanfield—despite him having a LinkedIn profile and Ali referring to him constantly. Some of the duped staff had even received emails from him.
Read the whole sad story. What’s amazing is how shallow all the fakery was, and how quickly it all unraveled once people started digging. But until there’s suspicion enough to dig, we take all of these things at face value. And in COVID times, there’s no face-to-face anything.
Posted on February 24, 2022 at 6:13 AM •
Report on espionage attacks using LinkedIn as a vector for malware, with details and screenshots. They talk about “several hints suggesting a possible link” to the Lazarus group (aka North Korea), but that’s by no means definite.
As part of the initial compromise phase, the Operation In(ter)ception attackers had created fake LinkedIn accounts posing as HR representatives of well-known companies in the aerospace and defense industries. In our investigation, we’ve seen profiles impersonating Collins Aerospace (formerly Rockwell Collins) and General Dynamics, both major US corporations in the field.
Posted on June 23, 2020 at 6:22 AM •
I have successfully gotten the fake LinkedIn account in my name deleted. To prevent someone from doing this again, I signed up for LinkedIn. This is my first—and only—post on that account:
My Only LinkedIn Post (Yes, Really)
Welcome to my LinkedIn page. It looks empty because I’m never here. I don’t log in, I never post anything, and I won’t read any notes or comments you leave on this site. Nor will I accept any invitations or click on any “connect” links. I’m sure LinkedIn is a nice place; I just don’t have the time.
If you’re looking for me, visit my webpage at www.schneier.com. There you’ll find my blog, and just about everything I’ve written. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want to talk to me personally.
I mirror my blog on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/bruce.schneier/) and my Twitter feed (@schneierblog), but I don’t visit those, either.
Now I hear that LinkedIn is e-mailing people on my behalf, suggesting that they friend, follow, connect, or whatever they do there with me. I assure you that I have nothing to do with any of those e-mails, nor do I care what anyone does in response.
Posted on August 18, 2017 at 2:14 PM •
I seem to have a LinkedIn account.
This comes as a surprise, since I don’t have a LinkedIn account, and have never logged in to LinkedIn.
Does anyone have any contacts into the company? I would like to report this fraudulent account, and possibly get control of it. I’m not on LinkedIn, but the best defense against this is probably to create a real account.
Posted on August 11, 2017 at 2:34 PM •
This is interesting:
First, it integrates with corporate directories such as Active Directory and social media sites like LinkedIn to map the connections between employees, as well as important outside contacts. Bell calls this the “real org chart.” Hackers can use such information to choose people they ought to impersonate while trying to scam employees.
From there, AVA users can craft custom phishing campaigns, both in email and Twitter, to see how employees respond. Finally, and most importantly, it helps organizations track the results of these campaigns. You could use AVA to evaluate the effectiveness of two different security training programs, see which employees need more training, or find places where additional security is needed.
Of course, the problem is that both good guys and bad guys can use this tool. Which makes it like pretty much every other vulnerability scanner.
Posted on August 19, 2015 at 7:11 AM •
Der Spiegel is reporting that the GCHQ used QUANTUMINSERT to direct users to fake LinkedIn and Slashdot pages run by—this code name is not in the article—FOXACID servers. There’s not a lot technically new in the article, but we do get some information about popularity and jargon.
According to other secret documents, Quantum is an extremely sophisticated exploitation tool developed by the NSA and comes in various versions. The Quantum Insert method used with Belgacom is especially popular among British and US spies. It was also used by GCHQ to infiltrate the computer network of OPEC’s Vienna headquarters.
The injection attempts are known internally as “shots,” and they have apparently been relatively successful, especially the LinkedIn version. “For LinkedIn the success rate per shot is looking to be greater than 50 percent,” states a 2012 document.
Slashdot has reacted to the story.
I wrote about QUANTUMINSERT, and the whole infection process, here. We have a list of “implants” that the NSA uses to “exfiltrate” information here.
Posted on November 13, 2013 at 6:46 AM •
We don’t know what they mean, but there are a bunch of NSA code names on LinkedIn profiles.
ANCHORY, AMHS, NUCLEON, TRAFFICTHIEF, ARCMAP, SIGNAV, COASTLINE, DISHFIRE, FASTSCOPE, OCTAVE/CONTRAOCTAVE, PINWALE, UTT, WEBCANDID, MICHIGAN, PLUS, ASSOCIATION, MAINWAY, FASCIA, OCTSKYWARD, INTELINK, METRICS, BANYAN, MARINA
Posted on July 11, 2013 at 6:36 AM •
Interesting paper: “A Practical Attack to De-Anonymize Social Network Users.”
Abstract. Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Xing have been reporting exponential growth rates. These sites have millions of registered users, and they are interesting from a security and privacy point of view because they store large amounts of sensitive personal user data.
In this paper, we introduce a novel de-anonymization attack that exploits group membership information that is available on social networking sites. More precisely, we show that information about the group memberships of a user (i.e., the groups of a social network to which a user belongs) is often sufficient to uniquely identify this user, or, at least, to significantly reduce the set of possible candidates. To determine the group membership of a user, we leverage well-known web browser history stealing attacks. Thus, whenever a social network user visits a malicious website, this website can launch our de-anonymization attack and learn the identity of its visitors.
The implications of our attack are manifold, since it requires a low effort and has the potential to affect millions of social networking users. We perform both a theoretical analysis and empirical measurements to demonstrate the feasibility of our attack against Xing, a medium-sized social network with more than eight million members that is mainly used for business relationships. Our analysis suggests that about 42% of the users that use groups can be uniquely identified, while for 90%, we can reduce the candidate set to less than 2,912 persons. Furthermore, we explored other, larger social networks and performed experiments that suggest that users of Facebook and LinkedIn are equally vulnerable (although attacks would require more resources on the side of the attacker). An analysis of an additional five social networks indicates that they are also prone to our attack.
News article. Moral: anonymity is really, really hard—but we knew that already.
Posted on March 8, 2010 at 6:13 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.