One interesting trick foreign industrial spies use is to pretend to be a college student in order to start up conversations with individuals who have industry knowledge. The military industrial spies from Russia, China, Iran, and other places have been known to pretend to be someone important and yet contact their targets using a free-mail account with someone else’s name. Interestingly enough, some dastardly private investigators, and also law enforcement person in the US do the same thing, it’s a tactic well known, far and wide, globally in fact.
What about someone contacting their target using a .edu account from a college, does that make them legitimate? No, not really, actually a .edu is probably not sufficiently safe in this case. You see, our colleges have been completely infiltrated by spies, etc., and they are not secure. Someone could use your name or the name of a rather important researcher, company executive, or high-ranking official to talk about the latest technology, and you, the target would naturally assume that you were talking to one and the same, but you are really conversing with a spy with ill-intent, and perhaps even divulging information as well.
It’s very easy to get tricked using this tactic, that is someone using a g-mail or any free-mail account to discuss things with someone who might assume through social engineering, etc, that they were talking to the real individual whose name was being used.
Interestingly enough, a think tank coordinator, I’ve had online communications with many people in the past, which I could never actually verify who they were so I tread lightly, it’s happened a lot more than I can care to count. Cybersecurity is very important and the Chinese, Russians, and Iranians just exploit the crap out of our communications systems. It’s just amazing really.
Consider how easy it would be for someone to claim it was you and get a Yahoo (dot) free-mail account and start emailing everyone, telling them they were doing college research. When it comes to corporate intelligence gathering they teach students how to exploit information this way. See all those points? Someday, I’d like to track all of the people who’ve ever contacted me, and I bet there would be 4 or 5 spies in the list, I am absolutely certain of it.
Of course, the purpose of this article is to let people with sensitive information know about the realities and to consider what information they give up to whom, what they post online, and to verify whom they are speaking to on the Internet. Please consider all this.