Robin Sage Has Taught Us Nothing It Seems…
Cutouts and LinkedIn
Recently I was sent an invite by the profile of “Emanuel Gomez” an alleged recruiter from Alaska asking to be added to my LinkedIn “friends” Some of you may have seen the event happen on LinkedIn as after I did a little due diligence OSINT it became clear that this account was a cutout for someone looking for entree to my list of connections using a rather obvious fake name and details. The first clue though was a quick search of the headshot used on Google image search which came up with the real person’s name and profile elsewhere. Once I got that hit it was all out OSINT time and here is what I found.
The culprit behind this fake LI account is one Leon Jaimes, a techie in Alaska via Colorado. Leon had used an email address in his profile that led me right to him as he posted under his real name at various bulletin boards and had a flickr account attached to the same address. Within his data on the image upload site he had many personal details as well as an old registration with pertinent personal data on it that he had photographed and placed on the web… Yeah.. Sigh…
I made short work of Leon and dug up a lot on him including an arrest record for being drunk and trespassing in someone’s house. All I have to say is Leon, buddy, like I said in the email I sent to you, your OPSEC sucks! Leon actually emailed me back asking where he had gone wrong and admitting to the profile which I did not answer… I mean really? I am going to teach you better OPSEC? Two words FUCK. NO.
I had meanwhile begun a thread on LinkedIn about the incident (pic at top started the string) to alert others as to the ongoing ruse. I had seen others within my circle who had fallen for this as well as others he seemed to be aiming at. At the time of my initially getting the email to add him he had 23 people as connections. By 10 am he had 50. People were just click happy and adding him to their connections without really taking a closer look at his profile. Mind you, these were people in INFOSEC as well as MIL and Fed types! I checked the profile as of this writing though and it is now gone from LI so there is at least that and more than a few people have looked at my post and commented. Yet, it still bothers me that so many fell for such a poorly constructed profile.
Social Animals With Cognitive Issues
So what have we learned since the big hullabaloo over Robin Sage? It would seem not much really. Why is this? Why have people generally not learned from the event Tommy sparked back a few years ago? Are we just not teaching people about SE and the perils of cutout accounts and espionage being carried out by state actors and others via venues like LinkedIn? I actually believe that there are many concomitant issues at play here and I recently spoke at BsidesCT about the cognitive issues around security.
We are creatures of habit with lazy minds it seems with biological impediments cognitively as well as generally, as a species have adapted to being social animals. It’s this very social aspect that is being leveraged so well today as always in the espionage world. It is just that today you can reach people much easier via the net and social media and harvest much more data extremely quickly. There are of course a host of social mores that I could go into but perhaps that’s for another day. What I would really like to say here though is that if you are on LinkedIn and you are not at least trying to vet those people trying to get you to add them then you are likely adding cutout accounts as well who are spying on you.
OPSEC Lessons Learned
So I guess many people may not care at all who they connect to on LinkedIn. Perhaps some of those people are in INFOSEC or the Defense base as well. Maybe those users really have nothing in their profiles to protect and do not consider their connections to be of worth to some adversary somewhere. Perhaps those same people are idiots and have not been paying attention to the news for the last, oh, let’s say 3 years? Maybe there is just a general lack of education on the whole within companies about social engineering, phishing, and today’s common attacks? Is there actually a study out there showing just how much education is going on at a corporate and nationwide scale?
Here are the salient simple facts for you all to chew on:
- Everyone is a target and your information and your connections are important to an adversary looking to attack YOUR business.
- Social Media sites like LinkedIn are a goldmine for this intelligence gathering. Not only of your connections but also your personal information that you may leak there or other places that when mined, can lead to a fuller picture of who you are, your habits, and your weaknesses.
- Phishing and SPEAR-Phishing attacks start at this level with intelligence gathering on you and others in your circles. Plans are hatched leveraging who you know and who you work with to exploit yourself and others into clicking links or giving up intelligence to the adversary.
- All of the above happens every day to millions of people and the reality is you are the only one who can try to prevent it by being more aware of these things.
I should think that there would be more moratoriums on the use of LinkedIn and other places tagging where you work to your profile. This is a real harvest festival and has been for some time and yet no one has made a move here. LinkedIn also is a part of the problem too. They seem to be doing pretty much nothing to invent means of vetting people to insure they are who they say they are. Look at the recent case of Newscaster and their use of not only LI but also Facebook and Twitter. They had numerous people from the Aerospace community connected to them on LinkedIn and this was an Iranian operation (note** Amateurish and likely not state sponsored or run**) but still… You get the picture right?
I will leave you with these questions;
- What’s on your LinkedIn?
- Who are you connected to?
- What information is on your profile that could be used to tell what access you have, who you work for, who your friends are, what your preferences are etc…
- What secrets do you have that I can exploit from your social media accounts?
- What OPSEC precautions have you taken to protect your information?
- Are you even aware of these things?
Think before you click ADD USER.
Subscribe to comments with RSS.