Dark-eyed and alluring, with glossy hair worn in a sexy, tousled style, Mia Ash was 30 years old, a well-educated, successful photographer based in London, independent-minded and looking for love.The middle-aged executive she approached online was captivated.And if the executive had any suspicions about Mia, they would soon have been allayed by her extensive profile on Facebook, where she had more than 500 'friends', plus hundreds more on Linked In, the business social networking site she'd used to contact him, and numerous posts on Instagram.Mia was clearly a well-connected, sophisticated woman — a friend of several well-known photographers — who had set up her own business in 2014 and was going places.More recently, in 2006, a senior Scottish Army officer was sent home from Islamabad in disgrace after being caught by MI6 in an 'inappropriate relationship' with a Pakistani intelligence agent.Nowadays, however, webchat is increasingly the new pillow talk, according to Edward Lucas, an expert on cyber-security and author of a forthcoming book on the new technology of espionage.'This is now a major part of the espionage game,' he says.
She had started her career as an assistant at the trendy Clapham Picturehouse in south-west London, before staff jobs at various photographic studios.
A photograph chosen to represent her, as well as numerous selfies, were lifted from the social media accounts of an innocent Romanian student and blogger.
Before Ms Ash 'disappeared' from the internet in February, she is reported to have lured senior figures in sensitive industries in the U.
There, the program, called Pupy RAT, was poised to steal corporate and strategic plans.
It was then the sting began to unravel, though, as the company's sophisticated cyber-defences identified the rogue program and blocked it, ringing alarm bells. Its analysts, who have just made the case public, soon discovered one of that company's employees had been communicating with 'Mia Ash' for more than a month.