Australia's domestic spy agency is relying on a popular social media site to help drive its latest recruitment efforts.
The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation has launched a fresh campaign on Instagram in an effort to harvest the potential online breeding ground for new recruits.
The "Why I Spy" campaign, which launched on Friday, will tell the real stories of intelligence officers, beginning with the agency's director-general Mike Burgess.
The top spy said the social media site, known for its role in the rise of influencers, did not seem the natural home for an intelligence agency but he argued ASIO operatives were not like Hollywood action heroes.
"People think spies are [James] Bonds or [Jason] Bournes, but real-world intelligence work is much more nuanced and requires a far more complicated mindset," Mr Burgess said.
"Trench coats and fedoras are a fun throwback to our past, but not the reality any more.
"Our spies are your neighbours and friends and members of your community. They are carers, parents, grandparents and community volunteers. They pay mortgages, coach sporting teams, look after loved ones."
Mr Burgess will remain the only agency officer to be identified in the campaign due to secrecy and operational reasons but the spy agency insists all the stories come from real agents.
Animated footage accompanying the stories shows Mr Burgess and other anonymous officers morphing through a number of disguises.
It comes as the latest effort by the shadowy agency to appear more transparent to the general public following a promise made by Mr Burgess to bring "sunlight and transparency" to ASIO.
Mr Burgess warned last year foreign intelligence services were resorting to more abstract methods to recruit moles and gather intelligence.
Social and professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, had been used in recent years to obtain information with just the click of a button.
He warned generous job offers or friendly strangers online might actually be a foreign spy trying to "win trust" and "steal secrets".
"Social media and professional networking sites are fertile hunting grounds for foreign spies trying to identify, groom and recruit Australians who have access to sensitive information," Mr Burgess said.
"In the past, attempted recruitment was time-intensive, expensive and risky because the foreign intelligence officers would need to operate on location and in person.
"Now, they can use the internet to work from the safety of their overseas headquarters, sending thousands of friend and networking requests with the click of a mouse."
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