facepalm: Have you heard of the War Thunder battle tank video game? Well, the military intelligence agencies of several countries have, and not because of the realistic depiction in the game of real armored fighting vehicles. No. Apparently, the War Thunder forums are so out of control that users have repeatedly leaked secret military secrets.
Note. Although Gaijin has removed all classified material mentioned in this article, most of it has been reproduced elsewhere on the Internet. TechSpot will not directly link to this information for obvious reasons, but some links to past posts may lead to more specific documentation.
For the first time, someone leaked secret documents to the War Thunder forums in July 2021. The incident involved two fans arguing about the in-game depiction of the British Challenger 2 main battle tank. One user posted scanned portions of the tank’s army equipment support post to prove his point.
Game developer Gaijin then received a letter from the UK Department of Defense stating that the hosted documents were still classified. Gaijin removed the posts and warned the user.
“Continuing to spread [those documents] you are violating the Official Secrets Act, as stated in the warning on the cover of the document, a crime that can result in up to 14 years in prison if prosecuted. You already know about this, as a service person, you signed a statement that you understand the action and what actions it forces you to take.
One would think that this incident would be enough for others to think twice about doing something like this, but no. Common sense is a commodity these days, and just three months later, another competition erupted between two players who thought they knew everything about the French Leclerc main battle tank.
Once again, one of the users proved himself to be an authority by publishing a tank manual. The person who distributed the documents was confirmed to be a member of the crew of a newer model Leclerc. Of course, Gaijin immediately deleted his posts with a similar warning. Oh, but that’s not all.
Earlier this week, a user on the Gaijin forums published information asking the developer to change some characteristics of one of the Chinese tanks in the game. To prove that his figures were accurate, he posted an image of a ballistic diagram for a DTC10-125 tungsten penetrator with part of this weapon placed on top of the diagram. In this case, information was circulated via Reddit and Twitter, even to the point where native Chinese speakers translated the document into English.
A Chinese MBT crew member may have just leaked (a lot of) classified information about rounds on the Warthunder forum. Article soon.
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 1, 2022
Gaijin deleted the post again, but this time the user was banned after the moderators confirmed that the information was classified. The studio told Kotaku that its players are passionate about realism, but will not accept or entertain information or change requests from fans. it’s the same noted that it has a policy against posting anything that is illegal or that could harm the company or users. Publishing classified information seems to fall into the category of illegal without a doubt, but players don’t seem to understand this.
If you are registered on the War Thunder forums, keep in mind that you are now being watched by OPSEC from at least three different countries. Be careful what you post.