This morning, I received the following inmail from Madeline Vasquez, a “Senior Staffing Manager” at “Network Search UK”.
We have a number of linkedin groups in common. Seeing that we share the same linkedin groups, can we establish contact for the purpose of bringing you closer to your career goals as i am reaching out to you for a team of experienced resume and career mentors.
To that end, we are offering a complimentary resume review that can address any mistakes you might have on your resume. We can evaluate your resume and advise you on how you can improve it. There will be no cost unless you require us to actually work on it.
If you are keen, do email your resume to email address firstname.lastname@example.org
This is of course a way to gather c.v.’s and information on people, but what is more interesting, are the features of this particular bait or phishing strategy.
Fake Linkedin profiles are easy to establish but likely to be time-consuming and difficult to scale. Crucially, anyone interested in establishing several fake profiles would quickly run into the trouble of finding different pictures to accompany each profile.
So it helps that synthetic pictures and avatars can be created cheaply and in great quantities. The quality, while not superb, is probably good enough to trick the busy recipient of this inmail,
The advantage of putting a picture in a linkedin profile, is probably motivated by the fact that profiles with pictures are more likely to attract attention and increase the percentage of success in terms of people actually sending their c.v. without bothering to look closely at the picture.
Three Degree of Separation.
Like all her below friends, Madeline Vasquez is conveniently three degrees of separation from me. Close enough to create the illusion of this being a real person, but not that close that I could quickly check her credential. Had she been a friend of a friend, I could ask that person if and how he knew Ms. Vasquez.
Meet Johnnie Scott https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/johnnie-scott/100/383/a7a
and Jillian Vaughn https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jillian-vaughn/ba/458/638
How exactly this particular stunt is achieve I can only guess. The number of connections these profiles feature is also relatively low but consistent, between 50 and 100. Is this by design or will it change as more people fall in the trap and add them to their circle?
You’ve Got a Past Therefore You Exist
Humans have personalities because they have a past, they have memories and a track record. In the most engaging scene in Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) interrogates Rachael (played by Sean Young) a young lady whom he suspects of being a replicant.
Rick later makes Rachael realise that all her memories have been implanted and therefore she is not human.
What these profiles also have in common, is that whoever set them up, has attempted to give them past, or track record. They all claim to have been to university. Jillian, is supposed to have studied at Birkbeck, Johnnie at Heythrop College and Irma at the University of Leicester.
Finally, they all belong to groups and have skills.
Sergeant Star for All?
The Swedish series “Real Humans” (Humans in the UK and coming soon in the US) demonstrates how our interaction with robots of near-human or better-than-human characteristics could dramatically change society.
We are not there yet. However, computing power increases and the cost of deploying increasingly sophisticated interaction with humans decreases. Have a chat with Sergeant Star of the US Army if you haven’t already.
These trends challenge our brains to become ever more aware and subtle in differentiating between humans and other forms of artificial intelligence.