The Royal Air Force has confirmed that information about the UK’s highly sensitive F-35 fighter jet program has been leaked, The Daily Mail reported over the weekend.
The report described an “audacious honeytrap plot,” which saw an airwoman’s social-media account hacked and then used to “sweet-talk” servicemen into revealing details about the stealth aircraft.
Citing confidential documents, the newspaper said the operation began in the weeks following the arrival of the first four F-35s, and had prompted concern among RAF officials.
A memo sent from the RAF’s head of security to other top officials last month was quoted as saying:
“Within the last week a serving member of the RAF had their online dating profile hacked. It subsequently transpired that the perpetrator then attempted to befriend another serving member of the RAF to apparently elicit comment and detail on F-35.
“Fortunately, little information was disclosed and the individual whose account had been hacked reported this matter expediently, enabling prompt follow-up action and investigation.
“Nevertheless, this incident serves to highlight the risk of social engineering (SE) and online reconnaissance against social media profiles that disclose links to HM Forces.”
The memo went on to define SE as “psychological manipulation to elicit confidential or sensitive information.”
“SE can be instigated over the phone or in a social setting (ie in a bar) as well as online,” the official wrote.
While the incident has not been publicly linked to specific foreign actors, the memo warned that “UK military posture, policy and capabilities continue to be significant targets of interest for hostile state and non-state actors.”