Honey trapping, or honey potting, is an ancient tactic that involves a couple of techniques to either recruit, allure or retrieve information from a mark. It is said that men are the most fragile targets but women can also be easily targeted. So, what are the most modern techniques involved in this manoeuvre and does it apply to special agents only?
Honey Trap/Pot Techniques
Social Media Flirt
This is a very widespread technique nowadays. People start off in platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Google+ where they “meet” others and start flirting with them. It all starts very innocently in public till the day they take it to more private “rooms” (i.e. Messenger, DM or Hangouts) where they move on to the next technique.
Social Media Sext
Sexting (text messages with sexual content - *Disclaimer* decent children are not try this at home) is carried out in chatting platforms where adults exchange raunchy messages with a specific purpose – to lead them to send compromising pictures and say damaging things to be used as blackmail currency; to drive them to do whatever in exchange for the thrill; to make them give up information after a “happy end”. Ex: an Indian Air Force Staffer was honey trapped by a Pakistani operative, via Facebook, who led him to send 'her' pictures of his military base.
In many cases, phone sex follows sexting (though not necessarily). Phone sex is a technique that can be used by analysts to identify voice inflections that will help to point out when a mark is lying or not. If recorded, the voice can also be copied and used for nefarious purposes. Ex: blackmailing operatives into betraying their country lest the recordings are leaked.
Let's imagine that the target and the Honey Trap meet up in a bar. They flirt, they get handsy, and suddenly the Honey Pot has access to his access card, to his USB drive, to his credit cards, home key (that will be quickly copied, if possible). The Honey Potter can plant things in her/his mark too. In yet another diverse scenario, flirting can also be employed to allure the mark to a certain place where he/she will meet the people who will want to either recruit, neutralise or kidnap him/her.
One-on-one encounters may end up in sexual encounters that can be filmed for blackmail. Most of the times, agents (and others) will rather give in to blackmail instead of reporting the threat to their superiors. Flirt and Sex have been used in espionage ever since intel gathering was born.
Operatives should not be Creatures of Habits
But most of the times they are. To the best of my knowledge, Kim Jong-Nam was not exactly an operative and yet because everybody knew his taste for women, it was easy for his adversaries to concoct a plan to kill him: two attractive female honey pots were used to apply VX on his face – the result, obviously, was his demise.
This advice is not only for intelligence and military agents, as it also applies to high profile businessmen, Techies, nuclear and weapons engineers, high level doctors, members of the Academia with security clearance, police officers and anyone who may have access to facilities of interest (including cleaning personnel). The bottom line is if you are a person holding such positions you are to be very careful and your employees should take preventative measures to counter any attempt to retrieve intelligence.
There is yet another form of honey potting, albeit a most uncomfortable one to admit: marriage. The honey trap manages to get married to the target and retrieve, from inside, as much information has his/her case officer wishes. This holds true for Silicon Valley CEOs, Wall Street bankers, high profile businessmen, Nuclear engineers and designers etc; though it may not hold true for secret agents (as their relationships tend to be more controlled by their agencies).
Even though Honey trapping is an ancient tactic, it is now taking new and more sophisticated forms and any information service; any company, corporation and organisation should pay attention to this form of espionage – even if doing so may seem like interfering in their staff's sex life. Better safe than sorry.
(Image: Bridge Over Trouble - Victor Ostrovsky)
[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]