Virtual Honeypot

Espionage via Twitter?


Credit: Reason Magazine

On Twitter, no one knows you're a spy. In fact, no one really knows what you look like at all. So posing as a scantily clad, flirty woman who just happens to be well-connected in the national security sector takes little more than an image of an anonymous bikini-clad body on a beach. 

When a Twitter user going by the handle "1st Lady of Missiles" first showed up on the service, she picked an alluring photo of a young woman in a skimpy bathing suit. Later, under a different account named PrimorisEra, she used a photo of a woman's chest, draped in long brown hair with one shoulder exposed. 

Under her various accounts, she claimed to be working with both the CIA and the Pentagon. As Spencer Ackerman reported for Wired in April, it didn't take long before the user built up a following among defense policy professionals, some of whom now say she used her Twitter connections to ask for sensitive information about security operations. 

The woman, who sometimes went by the name Shawna Gorman, was eventually accused of being a "honeypot": a spy who uses sex appeal to get others to reveal secret information. The Pentagon launched an investigation into her online interactions at the end of April.