Intelligence agencies have detected an elaborate effort on the part of foreign intelligence networks to gather information about the Order of Battle (ORBAT) of key military units by trying to lure defence officers through friendship on social media sites.
One particular instance has come to light where a fake name ‘Simran Chaudhary’, along with a fake photograph, was used to entice some Army officers into conversations and friendship. After befriending these officers, the profile holder then went on to ask the details of various units under the many frontline brigades of the Army.
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In one of the chats, which is under investigation at present and which has been accessed by The Sunday Express, the conversation turns towards the units which constitute an armoured brigade.
This armoured brigade is part of a Strike Corps and hence any information relating to it can be of immense value to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), since this strike corps is primarily oriented as an offensive formation to be deployed on Pakistan border in case of hostilities.
During the conversation, the fake profile user manages to get the information sought in return for posting some photographs asked for by the person she is conversing with. After getting information about one brigade, ‘Simran” demands more information saying, “Now its ur turn, send next brigade, I hv kept my promise”.
The chat under investigation reveals the person getting suspicious about the photographs not being real, about which he is told: “me in office now, how can I take fresh pics, it is not easy to take nude pics at every moment…these are mine pics…u can see my face”.
Intelligence outfits have detected another conversation of ‘Simran’ with another person, who identified himself to be a Captain in an infantry battalion and went on to give the details of infantry battalions presently in an infantry brigade. In the chat under investigation, he also shares information on which unit has moved out from the brigade. But when asked about its destination, the person replies that he does not know.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, a senior officer in Army Headquarters confirmed that there have been instances where such attempts were made to secure vital operational information from social networking sites.
“These are enemy intelligence agents who pose as women by creating fake profiles with fake pictures and try to lure military personnel into revealing details,” he said, adding that investigations in the cases detected so far were already on.
The Army as well the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, have detailed instructions regarding the use of social media and the level of secrecy which has to be maintained.
A social media monitoring cell has also been established and officers are encouraged to provide information to this cell if they feel that something suspicious is being circulated on social media and which needs deeper investigation.