Chinese intelligence agents using fake LinkedIn accounts have managed to ensnare thousands of senior French business executives and civil servants. According to a joint report by the DGSE and DGSI, the French versions of the CIA and FBI, over 4,000 French financial and government ‘high-value targets’ have been pursued by Chinese intelligence. The report states that 48 percent were private companies and 52 percent were government entities. Targeted individuals worked in the health, computer, nuclear, and telecommunications sectors.

A French intelligence officer highlighted the lack of cybersecurity awareness and training in the French population, singling out top French executives, government employees, and politicians. He emphasised that since 2017 there has been an attempt to address this problem. And from now on, the French intelligence services will be more aggressive against Chinese — and other actors’ — espionage attempts.

“We will respond to attacks blow for blow, whatever the consequences,” he said.

LinkedIn — popular professional networking website — has been trying to counter the negative publicity. Paul Rockwell, LinkedIn’s head of trust and safety,  recently said, “We’ve never waited for requests to act and actively identify bad actors and remove bad accounts using information we uncover and intelligence from a variety of sources including government agencies.”