Protect Against Expert Network Solicitations

Protect Against Expert Network Solicitations

September 19, 2023

At Lockheed Martin, the security and confidentiality of company information is at the forefront of our operational mindset. As a supplier, we rely on you to stay vigilant against the “hidden spies” in your inbox, online or on your mobile devices.

Maintaining visibility of the hidden spies in your inbox is critical to ensure security.

“If it’s too good to be true, it usually is”

Expert Networks are a prime example of this adage. These companies connect their “clients” with experts who share information related to specific topics of interest. These experts may be crucial members of your company.

While answering a few questions might sound innocent enough, you or a colleague may unwittingly provide information to a direct competitor, an individual hired by a nation-state, or even an intelligence service of a nation-state adversary.

What do Expert Network companies do?

The primary role of the Expert Network company is to identify subject matter experts (SME), like you, who have the expertise or specialized knowledge their client is seeking. The company will typically contact the SME to gain additional insight to determine if they are willing and able to answer their client’s questions. The most common way Expert Network companies contact these SME’s is through email or LinkedIn, but there are instances where Expert Network companies reached out to SMEs through text messages and unsolicited phone calls. Notably, SMEs are routinely offered monetary compensation for their time and information.

Sounds Great! What’s the Problem?

The catch is that only the Expert Network company knows the identity of its client. And that’s if the client provided accurate information and is the actual end user. The “client” could in fact just be an intermediary who and provides the information to a third party.

Expert Network companies often seek classified or proprietary information. Careful attention should be paid to your internal company policies to ensure protection of sensitive company and client information. Providing classified or proprietary information will negatively impact the defense industry’s competitive advantage.

How can I Protect Myself?

  1. Limit publicly available details about yourself that would enable Expert Network companies to identify and target you. This includes specific information related to your work, the programs and technologies you support, your clearance level and other sensitive information about you and your area of expertise. Limiting this information in publicly available resources will reduce the likelihood of being contacted by an Expert Network company.
  2. Be mindful of the contact information you share via email, especially in automatic replies or signature blocks.
  3. Do not forward messages. This can expand the Expert Network company’s network.  In essence, you would be doing their work for them by identifying specific individuals with the expertise for which they are looking.

If you are contacted by an Expert Network or asked to answer questions by unknown individuals, do not respond! Report it to the appropriate internal official within your company.