Intelligence report: China's intelligence services look for Lithuanian targets on LinkedIn

  • 2020-02-04
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Chinese intelligence services are looking for targets in Lithuania on the career-focused social networking website LinkedIn, Lithuanian intelligence said on Tuesday. 

"Chinese intelligence uses LinkedIn to establish contacts with selected targets abroad in the early stages of recruitment operations," the Lithuanian State Security Department (SSD) and the Second Investigation Department under the Defense Ministry said in their National Threat Assessment 2020 report.

"The most common targets are civil servants, information technology specialists, defense sector employees, scientists, and experts in multiple other fields," they said.

Potential targets usually receive offers to become consultants, invitations to China "with all expenses covered", and requests to provide, for a payment, analytical assessment of trends in a foreign country, and summaries of public and non-public political or military information. 

Subsequent contacts are made via mobile apps or e-mail until the "target" is eventually involved in espionage activities, according to the report. 

"Thousands of LinkedIn users around the world have received offers from fictitious Chinese companies – used as a cover for Chinese intelligence – to become their consultants or employees. Such activities of the Chinese intelligence were also identified in Lithuania".

The report says that an "ongoing malicious use" of Chinese cyber capabilities "is being

observed in Lithuanian cyberspace", but identifies cyber espionage by Russia's intelligence services as "the biggest threat to the security of Lithuanian information systems. 

"The development of 5G technology without sufficient focus on the trustworthiness of the IT service or product provider may become a new risk factor" in Lithuania, it warned.  

China's telecoms giant Huawei is not mentioned by name in the report. 

Last year's annual intelligence report was the first to identify China's activities as a threat to Lithuania's national security. 

Just like in previous years, the latest report focuses on threats posed by Russia.