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CPNI launches app to counter malicious approaches online


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Steve Barclay
Image source: Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0

The Cabinet Office and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) have launched a mobile app to help people identify fake profiles on social media and professional networking sites.

They said the Think Before You Link app has been developed with behavioural scientists in response to the increased use of false profiles by foreign spies and other malicious actors.

It includes features such as a profile reviewer and a function to report anything that seems suspicious, enables users to conduct their own digital due diligence, and is available on Google Play and the Apple store.

The launch of the app comes as increased espionage by state actors persistently threatens the UK and is increasingly conducted online. The announcement highlighted that current and former civil servants can be attractive targets because of their experience, and said the app will boost the support and advice given to those working on sensitive policy.

Increasing threat

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay (pictured), lead minister for cyber security said: “The online threat via social media is increasing, with fake profiles on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook being created on an industrial scale.

“Many of these profiles are established as an elaborate ruse for eliciting details from either officials or members of the public who may have access to information relating to our national security.

“It is therefore crucial that we do all we can to protect ourselves and our information, ensuring those who we connect with online are who they say they are. This new app will be an important tool in that endeavour.”

The development is part of the CPNI’s Think Before You Link campaign, and reflects concerns in University of Portsmouth research showing that around 16.8 million users of LinkedIn may have accepted unknown contacts and that awareness of the potential threat from state actors using fake profiles is lower than other online threats.

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