On the heels of Facebook’s announcement recently that Iranian spies were targeting U.S. medical, military and the technology sectors through social media accounts, Proofpoint, a security software firm, made a similar statement.
Their researchers discovered that the Iranian spies, posing as a United Kingdom aerobics instructor, were trying to connect with U.S. defence contractors in order to install malware.
The bad actor was the same spy ring identified by Facebook known as, Tortoiseshell. In this case, Proofpoint stated that Tortoiseshell had tried to build connections across several media platforms for over a year with “a small subsidiary of an aerospace defense contractor” using the name, Marcella ‘Marcy’ Flores.
Iran and other countries tend to use women’s social media profiles to build connections and gain favour because women are less suspected than men of espionage activity. Western male employees are more vulnerable to this because of this blind spot. That is, their cultural projections about women not being as capable or astute as men. Other countries continue to exploit western cultural shadow just the Allies did in WW 2 when they sent women behind enemy lines as espionage agents. Cultural norms and expectations take decades if not centuries to shift because they are assimilated into our unconscious so early in life.