Foreign Intelligence Services Are Still Targeting Clearance Holders
Technological advances in mobile phones, cameras, listening devices and storage has made life easier for foreign intelligence operatives engaging in espionage. However, social media sites are an even more effective method of luring unsuspecting prey, e.g., a security clearance holder. China and other foreign governments are using professional networking and social media sites to target people with U.S. government security clearances. Foreign intelligence services use fake profiles and seemingly harmless requests to try to gain non-public and classified information for their benefit.
There are so many scams out there it is hard to tell truth from fiction these days. To keep you from becoming a target review your online profiles and account settings on social and professional networks to control the information that is publicly available, especially relating to security clearances. Only form contacts online with people you know or after you have verified them as legitimate in some other way.
Look out for these indicators that all may not be as it seems:
- If it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t: Be suspicious of jobs offering remote or flexible work and a disproportionately high salary for the role advertised.
- Don’t fall for flattery: Your contact may overly praise or focus on your skills and experience or refer to you as a “high-end” candidate (especially if your government affiliation is known).
- Once in a lifetime opportunity: There may be an emphasis on so-called limited, one-off, or exclusive opportunities.
- Foggy details or lack of verifiable information: There may be a lack of any visible or verifiable company information available online and/or the job itself lacks tangible details.
- Creating a false sense of urgency: Your contact might be overly responsive to messages and may attempt to rush you off the networking platform onto another communication method (except to secure platforms like ClearanceJobs.com).
- Ulterior motives: There may be a disproportionate focus on the company you are being recruited for rather than the company validating you as a possible candidate.
Security clearance holders or future applicants should be aware social media sites are coming under greater scrutiny, especially after the events in Washington, D.C. last month. Congress is pushing towards a bill that would require a review of social media postings for purposes of obtaining or renewing a security clearance, which is necessary to hold many federal jobs.