Manti Te’o, meet James Bond.
British spies are seducing enemy targets online, new documents from Edward Snowden show, a tactic known as a “honey trap” in intelligence circles but better known by the civilian term “catfishing.”
That revelation is part of several top-secret slideshows that were leaked to NBC News by the former NSA contractor, exposing a host of “dirty tricks” usd by the Brits to snare rival operators.
The presentations (available here and here) detail the varied tactics of a British spy unit know as Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group, which includes computer hacking, coordinated surveillance of journalists and diplomats, and the aforementioned setting of “honey traps.” The methods reflect a growing desire “to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous,” reports NBC News.
Presented to NSA agents during cyberespionage conferences, the slides justify the programs as being able to “destroy, deny, degrade, [and] disrupt” targets by “discrediting” them via these unusual, strictly un-cyber methods, which sound more like something out of a detective noir flick.
NBC News explains:
Spies have long used sexual “honey traps” to snare, blackmail, and influence targets. Most often, a male target is led to believe he has an opportunity for a romantic relationship or a sexual liaison with a woman, only to find that the woman is actually an intelligence operative. The Israeli government, for example, used a “honey trap” to lure nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu from London to Rome. He expected an assignation with a woman, but instead was kidnapped by Israel agents and taken back to Israel to stand trial for leaking nuclear secrets to the media.
The version of a “honey trap” described by British cyber spies in the 2012 PowerPoint presentation sounds like a version of Internet dating, but includes physical encounters. The target is lured “to go somewhere on the Internet, or a physical location” to be met by “a friendly face.” “¦ A “honey trap,” says the presentation, is “very successful when it works.”
Other activities exposed in the Snowden documents include DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) online attacks on government websites and the hacker group Anonymous and plans to manipulate foreign journalists to spread information to targets. The counterterrorism program at times bordered on the juvenile, swapping social media photos and texting associates negative information about targets.
The disclosures are just the latest showing British spy agents attempting to educate their American counterparts on their modes of government surveillance. Last month similar PowerPoint presentations were exposed showing how the British government monitored YouTube in real time and collected data from Facebook and Twitter.
What We're Following See More »
"The Trump administration is proposing a budget it says will increase defense spending by $54 billion and cut non-defense spending by the same amount. The White House is sending a topline budget proposal reflecting those figures to federal agencies on Monday afternoon, according to an Office of Management and Budget official." An unnamed OMB official said most federal agencies would face cutbacks.
Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Saturday that he would not attend the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April. The move did not come as a surprise, another moment in his ongoing battle with the media, which he has dubbed the "enemy" of the American people and repeatedly refers to as "fake news." Multiple outlets have already cancelled their events surrounding the dinner and several are considering skipping the event outright.
Phillip Bilden, Donald Trump's nominee for Navy secretary, has decided to withdraw his nomination after he was unable to sufficiently untangle his financial commitments. Bilden follows Vincent Viola, who withdrew his nomination for Army secretary.
"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."