Fake Profiles on LinkedIn and Phishing

Fake Profiles on LinkedIn and Phishing

LinkedIn - Fake Profiles and Phishing Workplace Connect

LinkedIn is widely recognised as the best platform for professional networking; B2B marketing however this also means that it can be a great place for phishing attacks. Due to cybercriminals easily being able to find successful targets. Therefore this blog will aim to explain what you should look out for regarding fake profiles on LinkedIn; and what these cybercriminals are after.


What to look out for in general 

There are numerous warning signs regarding a fake profile on LinkedIn. It is important to keep these in mind to minimise the risk of you becoming a victim of a cyber-attack. If your instinct is telling you a profile looks too good to be true or is very minimal, then it would be best to trust your instincts and ignore the profile/connection request.

A warning sign regarding a fake profile could include you receiving many connection requests from people who all seem to work in the same company; unless you have just started a new job and are receiving connection requests from all your new co-workers, then you should be wary of what is happening.

Another warning sign is if you look at the potentially fake profiles connections, and everyone they connect with seems to have stock photo looking profile pictures. This could mean the cybercriminal has made several profiles in an attempt to make them all look genuine by having multiple connections between them. Or there could be a group of attackers working together attempting to trick people.


Communication to look out for 

There are a couple of signs when the LinkedIn profile initially messages you which can be another giveaway that the profile is in fact fake. 

One of these being, poor literacy and language skills; if the messages do not make sense, then you can assume it is safe to say they aren’t who they say they are. The profile could claim they are from the same county as you, however, if the language is broken up, it could be proof they are lying about who they say they are.

If the profile presents itself as a well-established leader within a business and the message lacks grammar and spelling, this can be a red flag that the profile is fake and there is a worse intention for them wanting to get into contact with you; such as a phishing attack attempt.

Furthermore, if you have accepted a connection request and the profile you don’t trust begins sending links and documents for you to engage with, don’t participate in it. This is because phishing attacks commonly include links for people to enter their details in which the attacker can then steal and use for their own personal gain. Downloadable content can also include malicious code which will infect your computers and cause harm.


Elements of a profile to look out for 

There are numerous giveaways on a LinkedIn profile that can tell you if a profile is fake and we will go through them with you. 

As stated in the last section, a profile picture can be a good indicator of a fake profile. If the photo looks like a stock photo it is best to do a reverse image search using Google to see if you can find any results. If results show up with the image and Google can show you similar ones with a different name, then you know it is best to ignore the connection request.

Another sign of a fake profile is if it is missing a lot of personal information. Most people create LinkedIn profiles with the aim of wanting to show off as much as they can about their achievements or education, in hopes of getting noticed by the right company for them; or being recognised as a high achiever in their professional life.

On the other hand, if you view the profile and it seems to have a very unrealistic employment history; for example, only working at extremely high recognised businesses or in very high positions their whole life. Then this can be a sign of a fake profile as well. If someone looks too good to be true then it would be wise to remove the profile as a connection of yours.


The motive behind the fake profiles 

Fake LinkedIn profiles are usually a sign of a phishing attempt from a cybercriminal. The main reason they would do this is for financial gain however there are of course other reasons behind this style of crime.

Another reason to create a fake account for phishing, is so they can communicate with employees of a business they are wishing to compromise; they could befriend the employee so that the victim feels comfortable sharing personal details which could provide all the information the attacker needs in order to begin their attack. For example, they could lie and say they want to send their CV to the manager for future consideration; then once they have the email address, they crack the password in order to send out mass phishing emails from the ‘manager’.

Similar to the reason above, fake profiles could be after your own email address; so that they can impersonate you to your family, friends and co-workers; in an attempt for them all to give you their personal information which the cyber-criminal could then exploit. Therefore, avoid sharing personal details online as much as possible whether it is contact details or personal details.

The final reason we will share is cybercriminals could use these fake profiles to set up fake job adverts on LinkedIn. The job adverts can prompt people to share personal details very easily as they believe it is part of the recruitment process. This in turn, means that the attacker could easily get the following details from many people:

  • Credentials 
  • Right to work 
  • Criminal background 
  • Banking details 
  • Email addresses 
  • Personal information 

Therefore, we recommend always being wary of who you accept connection requests from on LinkedIn. Utilising all these tips should enable you to make an informed decision on whether a profile is trustworthy and safe to communicate with.

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