LinkedIn has defended itself after it was criticised over its Intro product and accused of using “man in the middle” tactics.
In this time of heightened awareness around surveillance, and after a scathing report by security firm Bishop Fox which pointed out that upon downloading it, all IMAP and SMTP data is sent through LinkedIn’s servers, the social network has responded by calling the assertions “inaccurate”.
When it was announced last week, it was described as a “ rich, interactive, application-like experience” whose function was to add a person’s name and job title to an email header with support offered for Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, and iCloud — all in the iPhone Mail app.
In response, LinkedIn’s Cory Scot
t said that what had been said generally were “not correct or are purely speculative”. He said: “When the LinkedIn Security team was presented with the core design of Intro, we made sure we built the most secure implementation we believed possible. We explored numerous threat models and constantly challenged each other to consider possible threat scenarios.”
Scott said in advance of the launch of Intro it performed hardening of the externally and internally-facing services and reduced exposure to third-party monitoring services and tracking, and had its internal team of experienced testers penetration-test the final implementation, and make sure the right monitoring was in place to detect any potential attacks, react quickly, and immediately minimise exposure.
In terms of secure communications, it uses SSL/TLS at each point of the email flow between the device, LinkedIn Intro and the third-party mail system, he said, and when mail flows through the LinkedIn Intro service, LinkedIn made sure that it never persists the mail contents to its systems in an unencrypted form. Also once the user has retrieved the mail, the encrypted content is deleted from our systems.
In a direct comment to the Bishop Fox report, Scott said that it “simply adds an email account that communicates with Intro” and it does not change the device’s security profile in the manner described by Bishop Fox. “We worked to help ensure that the impact of the iOS profile is not obtrusive to the member,” he said.
He said that LinkedIn takes privacy very seriously and product design decisions and subsequent implementation are reviewed against its policies by its security and legal teams.
He concluded by saying that it welcomes and encourages an open dialogue about the risks but it felt it necessary to “correct the misperceptions” in this case.