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FBI Releases Movie to Alert Americans of Foreign Spy Threats

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 9/30/2020 Jackie Davalos

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. national intelligence agencies released a movie Wednesday to raise awareness of how foreign intelligence entities use social media to target Americans.

The film, called “The Nevernight Connection,” tells the fictional account of a former U.S. intelligence official who went to spy for the Chinese. The official was targeted by a Chinese foreign intelligence service through a fake profile on a professional networking site and recruited to turn over classified information. It was inspired by the true story of former Central Intelligence Agency officer Kevin Mallory, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2019 for passing national defense information to a Chinese intelligence officer. The 30-minute film, released by the FBI and the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, is free and available on the FBI’s website.

The production is the U.S. intelligence community’s latest effort to combat espionage and cyber-attack threats from foreign adversaries targeting individuals in government, business and academia. Foreign intelligence services and other hostile actors often pose online as headhunters, interested employees, someone with a shared interest or use other guises to connect and develop relationships with people who have access to valuable information, the NCSC said in a statement.

Hackers from Russia, China and Iran have stepped up efforts to disrupt the U.S. presidential election by targeting the campaigns of President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, among others, according to a recent investigation by Microsoft Corp. Earlier this month, the FBI helped Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. take down accounts associated with a Russian influence campaign that tried to hire unwitting U.S.-based journalists and use political ads.

“Through this movie and other resources, we hope to raise awareness among Americans so they can guard against online approaches from unknown parties that could put them, their organization and even national security at risk,” said NCSC Director William Evanina.

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