Fake profiles on social media can be more than bots attempting to sell products and hackers attempting to steal passwords. In some circumstances, exaggerated or outright fake profiles have ulterior motives. These profiles are sometimes used as a part of intelligent gathering operations by a government or military outfit.
“But long before James Bond ever jumped across the roof of a moving train in books or film, the globe-trotting spy Betty Pack was wooing suitors for classified information on both sides of the Atlantic,” Atlas Obscura describes of the vaunted spy Betty Pack whose weapon of choice was a tactic called ‘honey-trapping.’
They further detail how Betty would deploy her technique:
Her next assignment would be her greatest triumph. Having had so much success with the Italians, Betty was instructed to infiltrate the Vichy French Embassy. Betty’s mark, press attaché Charles Brousse, a married, charming man with serious concerns about the Nazis, immediately became Betty’s one “complete love.” Still, she made her boundaries regarding fidelity clear: “I do not belong to you or anyone else, not even to myself. I belong only to the Service,” she told him.
What Exactly Is Honey Trapping?
“Spies use sex, intelligence, and the thrill of a secret life as bait. Cleverness, training, character, and patriotism are often no defense against a well-set honey trap. And as in normal life, no planning can take into account that a romance begun in deceit might actually turn into a genuine, passionate affair. In fact, when an East German honey trap was exposed in 1997, one of the women involved refused to believe she had been deceived, even when presented with the evidence,” is the Foreign Policy explanation for the art of ‘honey-trapping.’ They would continue to explain the woman exposed was so duped that she did not believe she was had been deceived.
The technique draws at emotional cues which make it easy for the victim to be manipulated into divulging proprietary or sensitive information. From the public information about ‘honey-trapping’, members of the government, media, and civilians have all fallen prey to the technique.
The Honey Trapping Of Indian Jawans
Fifty jawans (Indian infantry members) were ‘honey-trapped’ by an individual claiming to be Anika Chopra an Army Captain of the Military Nursing Corps. Sombir Singh, 22 was arrested last week in Jaisalmer, India after it was found that he gave information to the individual claiming to be Chopra.
From various reports he sent the individual classified pictures of tanks, personnel carries, and the location of army formations. Unfortunately for Singh, his new love interest wasn’t whom he thought she was. According to the Telegraph, “Investigators suspect that the Facebook account originated in the Pakistani port city of Karachi and was being operated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) responsible for gathering overseas information.” India and Pakistan have a decades-long ‘strained’ relationship, putting Singh in a worse situation.
Indian police are questioning the other fifty members of the military who were ‘friendly’ with Chopra and further arrests could come after their investigation.
Who Is At Risk Of A Honey Trap?
Those with proprietary or sensitive government or military information are likely targets of ‘honey traps.’ However, as mentioned earlier, the intelligence gathering technique is used in numerous fashions — always with the intent of collecting intel that wouldn’t be readily available to the interested party.
This could range from credit card and banking information to data only the executives at a company would have the ability to access. Since the oncoming of the digital age, it makes it easier for predators to lay potential ‘honey traps.’
However, most attempts are amateur and those with a basic understanding of social media will have the necessary skills to detect such a ploy. Even with this being the case it is important to be cautious whenever disclosing secretive information.