It begins with ‘a young and pretty woman’ ‘liking’ social media photographs posted by a soldier and saying: ‘Wow, Jai Hind or thank you for keeping us safe.’
Then comes the demand for more photos with tanks, guns, aircraft, ships in the backdrop and information about current and past postings. The conversation gradually moves to direct messages and WhatsApp chats so that intimate photos and videos can be exchanged.
Turns out the ‘woman’ is actually an operative of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and blackmails the ‘honey trapped’ soldier into sharing sensitive defence secrets.
A massive number of such cases have hit the Indian Army, prompting it to launch an unprecedented nationwide crackdown.
The military intelligence is carrying out selective checks on phones, laptops and desktops of officers and soldiers in sensitive areas, sources have confirmed.
The Army has described ‘honey trap’ cases as a weapon of hybrid warfare being waged by the enemy across the borders.
A new information warfare team is being set up at the Army Headquarters to combat the danger. This is likely to include ‘social media warriors’. Several Twitter handles and Facebook accounts being run to ‘honey trap’ soldiers have been identified.
The Army has asked officers and jawans as well as their families not to post photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with soldiers in uniform or military equipment, installations and cantonments in the backdrop.
This is part of a list of Don’ts for officers, junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and jawans. The list has been accessed by India Today TV.
Other Don’ts include: do not give out names, ranks and deployment locations; do not brag about military achievements on social media; do not share information about military exercises, operations, transfers and promotions; do not accept friend requests from strangers; do not save or share military information on phones, laptops or personal desktops; do not watch and share porn online; do not click on advertisements; and do not download little-known APPs. A detailed handbook on past ‘honey trap’ cases is also being prepared to share with officers and jawans.
Rawat Cracks The Whip
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has ordered the force to crack the whip in cases of social media rules being flouted.
“Soldiers have been told not to accept social media friend requests with names of film stars. These could be honey traps. We are taking this very seriously and cannot allow security to be compromised through social media. For those (soldiers) who are not reporting the matter, the punishment is heavy,” General Rawat said on January 10.
“Why do they want to be friends with you? They would not want to be friends with any Tom, Dick and Harry,” he said.
Rawat said that social media cannot be banned in the military but it is to be used in a constructive manner.
There have also been cases of soldiers receiving photos of young and pretty women on WhatsApp. They are told the photos will open only on desktops. This compromises computers and sensitive data is accessed.