Incident Response, TDR, Threat Management

LinkedIn files complaint to reveal who is creating sham accounts

Although it has no idea who is responsible for scraping data from real accounts to create thousands of phony accounts – which are used predominately for spamming purposes – LinkedIn is suing anyway.

Attorneys with LinkedIn filed a complaint in federal district court in Northern California on Monday.

In an investigation, LinkedIn determined that the unknown defendants (Doe Defendants) accessed the social media website for working professionals using cloud computing services offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), which allows users to rent virtual computers and run their own programs and applications, according to the complaint.

“The Doe Defendents used Amazon EC2 to create virtual machines to run automated bots to scrape data from LinkedIn's website,” according to the complaint. “As a result of Doe Defendents' use of Amazon EC2, LinkedIn expects to be able to identify the Doe Defendants by serving third-party discovery on AWS.”

LinkedIn is hoping to expedite the discovery requests because it maintains that the creation of thousands of fake member profiles is causing irreparable harm to the company, including impairing the ability for real members to make genuine professional connections and recruiters to find authentic candidates.

“LinkedIn has suffered harm to its computer systems, and has expended significant human, financial, and technological resources, including hundreds of hours of employee time, investigating and responding to the Doe Defendants' unlawful activities, at a cost to LinkedIn of more than $5,000,” according to the complaint.

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