War Thunder forum has a problem with leaking classified military secrets

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,572   +1,075
Staff member
Facepalm: Have you heard of the combat tank video game War Thunder? Well, the defense intelligence agencies of several countries have, and not because of the game's realistic depiction of real-world armored combat vehicles. No. Apparently, the War Thunder forums have gotten out of hand to the point that users have leaked classified military secrets on multiple occasions.

Note: Although Gaijin has deleted all classified material mentioned in this article, much of it has been reproduced on other parts of the internet. TechSpot will not directly link to any of this information for obvious reasons, but some links to past coverage may lead to more specific documentation.

The first time someone leaked classified documents on War Thunder forums was in July 2021. The incident involved two fans arguing about the game's depiction of Britain's Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank. One user posted scans of portions of the tank's Army Equipment Support Publication to prove his point.

Game developer Gaijin then received a letter from Britain's Ministry of Defense that said the posted documents were still classified. Gaijin removed the posts and warned the user.

"By continuing to disseminate [those documents] you are in violation of the Official Secrets Act as stated by the warning on the cover of the document, an offense which can carry up to a 14-year prison sentence if prosecuted. Of this, you are already aware, as a service person, you have signed a declaration that you understand the act and what actions it compels you to take."

One would think that that incident would be enough to make others think twice about doing something similar, but no. Common sense is a commodity these days, and only three months later, another pissing contest broke out between two players that thought they knew everything about France's Leclerc Main Battle Tank.

Once again, one of the users proved himself to be the authority by posting the tank's manual. It was confirmed that the person disseminating the documents was a crew member of a newer model of the Leclerc. Of course, Gaijin removed his posts immediately with a similar warning. Oh, but it didn't end there.

Earlier this week, a user on Gaijin's forums posted information asking the developer to change some of the stats for one of the Chinese tanks in the game. To prove his numbers were accurate, he posted an image of the ballistics schematic for a DTC10-125 tungsten penetrator, with a piece of that armament placed on top of the diagram. In this case, the information was further propagated through Reddit and Twitter, even going so far as to have Chinese speakers translate the document into English.

Again, Gaijin deleted the post, but the user got banned this time after moderators confirmed the information was classified. The studio told Kotaku that its player base is passionate about realism, but it will not accept or entertain information or change requests from fans. It also noted that it has policies that forbid posting anything illegal or that would put the company or users in harm's way. Publicizing classified information seems to fall into the illegal category without question, but apparently, players don't seem to get it.

If you are a member of War Thunder's forums, keep in mind that you now have OPSEC from at least three different countries watching you. Be careful what you post.

Permalink to story.

 

Aus spot

Posts: 135   +130
The game has not signed the non disclosure agreements of other countries.

If you employ stupid people you lose control of your info. Don't bully other country's civilians.
 

quadibloc

Posts: 364   +243
I don't understand how classified material from China is an issue - except, of course, that such information should be leaked in confidence to the intelligence services of Western nations, and not somewhere that would allow the Chinese to know we know it.
 

Tantor

Posts: 349   +629
Small info leaks like these are constantly happening in military establishments worldwide. The combination of a young soldier and a cellphone camera is guaranteed to create leaks.
 

Tantor

Posts: 349   +629
"Publicizing classified information seems to fall into the illegal category without question, but apparently, players don't seem to get it."

Control of sensitive documents is very nuanced. The issue isn't so much the legality but controlling the information spill.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,820   +7,741
The game has not signed the non disclosure agreements of other countries.
I don't think an "NDA" is available to protect companies or individuals summarily exempting them from being prosecuted under international laws against espionage.
If you employ stupid people you lose control of your info. Don't bully other country's civilians.
If you "hire stupid people" from a government's point of view, you get rid of them, following by a prosecution for disseminating state secrets.. These "civilians" should never have had the information in the first place. Which us where laws against espionage kick in against these "poor victims".

An employee's level of security clearance, predicates itself on how many years they.ll get for violating it..
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 18,820   +7,741
Small info leaks like these are constantly happening in military establishments worldwide. The combination of a young soldier and a cellphone camera is guaranteed to create leaks.
Perhaps. But I don't think a soldier just out of boot camp is going to be allowed to stroll around a top secret weapons laboratory with a cellphone, do you? He, (or she), will more likely to be assigned to guard the entrance gate, gabbing with friends and family.there.
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 18,820   +7,741
@Cal Jeffrey This kind of sh!t goes on at "Quora" all the time. I've often commented, "are you sure these questions being asked aren't thinly veiled attempts at espionage"? Which more often than not, are poo-pooed away by the writer.

Although, they did find a Chinese agent masquerading as a mid western house wife, who asked something on the order of 11,000 questions pertaining to military matters..

One very interesting thing I found out was this; Russian bombers often penetrate US airspace. They're nor really there as a threat, but rather to calculate response times and what aircraft would fly up to meet them. However should our interceptors be stealth.aircraft, (F-22 or F-35) they fly with lights on and transponders blaring, so nobody can a fix on the plane's actual "cloaked" radar signature.

In better times the pilots would joke around with one another. At one point it was claimed that a Russian bomber pilot asked our fighter pilot in an F-4 "Phantom", to do a barrel roll around the bomber. Point being, some of that supposed "nonsense" in the original, "Top Gun" movie. ("Maverick" giving the finger to a Russian pilot while flying inverted above him), actually has at least some basis in fact.
 
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