Foreign Intelligence Threat: Increasing Awareness

Illustration of individuals in networksThe FBI and the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) released a short film to increase awareness of foreign intelligence threats. Based on true events, the 30-minute movie, called “The Nevernight Connection,” depicts a fictional story of a former U.S. Intelligence Community official being targeted by a foreign intelligence service via professional networking site. The movie is a direct effort to emphasize how foreign intelligence entities use fake social media accounts to recruit individuals in government, business, and academic communities.

China and other foreign governments rely on targeting people with U.S. government security clearances by offering lucrative employment opportunities, including all-expense-paid overseas trips and speaking engagements. Aside from government-related sensitive information, these actors seek to acquire trade secrets, proprietary data, as well as information on research and technology. As pointed out by the NCSC Director William Evanina, “Social media deception continues to be a popular technique for foreign intelligence services and other hostile actors to glean valuable information from unsuspecting Americans.”

In addition to the movie, the FBI and NCSC provide the following recommendations in mitigating these risks:

  • Practice basic cyber hygiene when receiving an invitation to connect via social media;
  • Never accept an invitation to connect from someone you do not know;
  • If possible, validate invitation requests through other means before accepting them;
  • Report suspicious online approached to appropriate authorities; and
  • Be careful about the information you post on social media platforms.

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