Beware of cyber criminals on LinkedIn, warns security expert Symantec

With more than 400 million users spread around the globe, LinkedIn is like a happy-hunting-ground for cyber criminals. Professionals drawn from a wide gamut of industries use this platform to connect and network with each other. It is now becoming a prime target for increasingly smart scammers, warned Symantec, a leading provider of security solutions.

Owing to its huge user base, this network that is extremely popular among professionals for its no-nonsense user interface is now attracting scammers. They operate by using fake accounts to scrape contact information, only to be used for sending cyber-phishing emails later.

These cheats pose as recruiters by gathering information from genuine users’ profiles to attract new connections. The scammers, elaborated the security expert, copy text from real professionals and then stuff the copied content with keywords, so as to leverage higher visibility in search results.

A majority of them follow a specific pattern. Presenting themselves as fake firms or self-employed recruiters to gullible targets, they even use pictures of real life professionals or collected from stock image sites to make their profiles appear genuine.

“We were able to confirm this by using reverse image search tools like TinEye and Google’s Search by Image. Using these fake LinkedIn accounts, scammers can establish a sense of credibility among professionals to initiate further connections,” said the official blog of the company.

The prime motive of these new cyber lurkers is to map out the networks of real life professionals and scour out as much information from them as possible. They map the contact details of their connections that might include their email addresses and personal telephone numbers.

Expressing concern over such fake profiles, the security expert warned LinkedIn users to be cautious while adding people they had not met in person.

“If you’ve never met the person before, don’t just add them,” said the company blog.

As it is always better to be safe than sorry, they also suggested users to:

  1. Do a reverse image search using TinEye or Google Image Search
  2. Copy-paste the profile information into a search engine

Either of the two can help LinkedIn users get a fairly good idea of the authenticity of accounts and see whether they are real or fake.

On being contacted, Deepa Sapatnekar, LinkedIn Head of Communications India and Hong Kong, mentioned that the company has adequate measures in place to protect the privacy and contact information of its members.

Whatever the network – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram more often than not, it is the irresistible urge to grow one’s network by adding unknown ‘mutual friends’ which lands a person in trouble.

In an era where cyber criminals are looking for all possible tricks and loopholes to prey upon our social profiles and lay hands on our data, we will have no one to blame but ourselves for such unfortunate turn of events.

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