AI tools, deepfakes being used by Pakistani Intelligence Operatives to honeytrap Indian defence personnel, bureaucrats and police: FPJ report

Indian intelligence agencies have identified a potent iteration of the honeytrap tactic used by Pakistani Intelligence Operatives (PIO), wherein the latter is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) tools, especially deep fakes, to carry out the work.

Messaging apps are used to honeytrap Indian officials. Photo courtesy: Unsplash.
Representational image of messaging apps. Photo courtesy: Unsplash.

As per an exclusive report by Free Press Journal quoting reliable sources, fictitious characters tailored to fit the ideal honeytrap profile are being created to trap civil and defence establishment personnel, contract-based workers in defence establishments, soldiers, bureaucrats and top police officials. Several suspected officials are currently under the agency radar for further probe.

PIOs sending malware under guise of Valentine’s Day greetings

Agency sources revealed that the engagement of PIOs has been particularly active owing to Valentine’s Day, using romantic or intimate relationships for interpersonal manipulation.

Under the guise of love, several malware messages and linked graphics, photos, chat groups linked to Valentine’s Day greetings have been sent by PIOs in a bid to hack into official profiles to obtain sensitive information.

Carrying out the task

As per probe, most of the suspected female profiles are AI generated with names such as Payal, Sonia, Arti, Mamta, and Sunita, among others, to appear genuine, old, and reliable.

The created profiles adopt the identities of models, struggling actresses, divorcees or needy persons. Whenever a defence personnel, jawan, high-ranking officer, or bureaucrat uses social media, these fictitious identities are deployed.

PIOs offer sexual favours

According to classified information obtained by the FPJ, the operation is based on databases extracted from smartphones of targeted officials. The PIOs select their targets by analysing the data extracted from these devices.

Notably, the PIOs are well-informed about their targets, making it easy to engage and deceive them. During interactions, they offer sexual favours, subsequently compromising the data on the officers’ phones.

In a recent honeytrap case investigated by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), 900 chats were discovered between a PIO and Gaurav Arjun Patil, a trainee civil apprentice at the Naval Dockyard.

According to sources, the alleged AI-created profiles of Payal Angel and Arti Sharma were used for communication, and several other individuals under surveillance were contacted using these profiles exclusively.

The concept of honey-trapping leans more towards the psychological side rather than the technological aspect. After recent incidents, the Indian Army decided to address this issue by developing their own AI chatbot with the aim of luring their own soldiers and identifying potential spies.

(The article is published under a mutual content partnership arrangement between The Free Press Journal and Connected to India)