A new and alarming method of spying on the West has recently come to light when the Tinder account of an RAF member was hijacked, and the hijacker attempted to use the illicit account to elicit information from another member of the RAF.
Tinder is an online dating site used by many thousands of single people. The account of one female member of the Royal Air Force was hijacked, and the spy used the hijacked dating profile to try and gain information on the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter from another member of the RAF, also a member of Tinder.
The servicewoman noted that her dating profile had been hacked and immediately reported it to her superiors. This meant that the hijacking could be promptly investigated, and no relevant information was released. The RAF member targeted was not a member of the F-35 programme, so no information other than that already available was disclosed.
The hack prompted the RAF’s Head of Security to send a memorandum to all staff members on the 9th July. In the note, some general details of the illegal attempt to solicit information were given along with a warning to be vigilant of the risk associated with social media profiles for people that reveal links to the military in the United Kingdom.
All members of the armed forces are bound by the Official Secrets Act, and the memorandum made it clear that disclosing information such as exercises and troop movements could be construed as an infringement of the act. They were also warned about something called social engineering. This was described as the “psychological manipulation to elicit confidential or sensitive information that could take place over the phone, in a bar, or over the internet.” This social engineering is aimed at members of the armed forces as the men and equipment of the armed forces is still of great interest to hostile countries.
The final warning regarded the contravention of policies regarding online use. This policy includes warning about disclosing too much personal information on social media.
The F-35 Lightning fighter is Britain’s newest fighter plane, and both Russia and China have been desperate to try and gain information on this new fighter. The UK has agreed to purchase 138 of these planes, and so far, 48 have been delivered at the astronomical price of £9.1 billion, making it the most expensive weapon bought by the UK.
Cyber-attacks are becoming more and more prevalent, but this is the first time that a dating site has been used to try and elicit information in such a manner.