Meta Says Ukrainian Military, Politicians Target of Hacking Campaign

Meta Platforms said a group of hackers used Facebook to target a handful of public figures in Ukraine, including prominent military officers, politicians, and a journalist, amid the ongoing invasion of the country by Russia.

Meta added that in the last 48 hours, it also separately removed a network of 40 fake accounts, groups, and pages on Facebook and Instagram operating from Russia and Ukraine, targeting people in Ukraine for violating their rules against coordinated inauthentic behavior.

A Twitter spokesman said it suspended over a dozen accounts and blocked several link exchanges for violating its rules against platform manipulation and spam.

He noted that his ongoing investigation indicated that the accounts originated in Russia and attempted to disrupt the public conversation about the conflict in Ukraine.

In a blog post on Monday, Meta attributed the hacking efforts to a group known as Ghostwriter, which it said successfully gained access to targets’ social media accounts.

Meta said the hackers attempted to post videos on Youtube of accounts showing weakened Ukrainian troops, including a video that claimed to show Ukrainian soldiers emerging from a forest and waving a white flag of surrender.

Russian hackers targeted the Ukrainian government and military personnel through Facebook and Instagram.

On Friday, Ukraine’s cybersecurity officials said hackers from neighboring Belarus were targeting the private email addresses of Ukrainian military personnel “and related persons,” blaming a group codenamed “UNC1151”.

US cybersecurity firm FireEye has previously connected the group to Ghostwriter’s activities.

Meta’s security team said it had taken steps to protect targeted accounts and had blocked phishing domains used by hackers. He declined to name any targets but said he had alerted users where possible.

Meta said the separate influence campaign, which used several fictitious individuals, claimed to be based in Kyiv and ran several websites disguised as independent media outlets. These media published claims that the West betrayed Ukraine and that Ukraine is a failed state.

The company said it had found links between this influence network and an operation it took down in April 2020, which had connected people in Russia, the region of Donbas in Ukraine, and two media outlets based in Crimea: NewsFront and SouthFront, which are now sanctioned. by the government of USA.

Neither NewsFront nor SouthFront immediately responded to requests for comment.

Meta declined to give several impressions or views of the influencer campaign content but said it had seen a “very low level” of shares, posts, or reactions.

He said the campaign had fewer than 4,000 Facebook accounts following one or more of his Pages and fewer than 500 accounts following one or more of his Instagram accounts. He did not say how long the campaigns had been running on his platforms.

He said the campaign had also used YouTube in Alphabet Inc, Telegram, and the Russian social networking sites Odnoklassniki and VK. YouTube, Telegram, and VK, which also owns Odnoklassniki, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The crisis in Ukraine has seen an escalation of clashes between Moscow and major technology companies.

Meta Responds to Facebook Restriction in Russia

On Friday, Russia said it would partially restrict access to Facebook, a measure that, according to Goal, It came after he rejected a government request to stop independent verification of several Russian state media outlets. Saturday, Twitter it also said that its service was restricted for some Russian users.

Ukraine’s Health Ministry said on Sunday that more than 300 children had been killed since the beginning of the invasion.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”

Ukraine has been plagued by digital intrusions and denial of service actions before and during the Russian invasion. Several large technology companies have announced measures to strengthen the security and privacy of their users in the country.

Meta, which recently has made changes such as removing the ability to view and search friends lists from Facebook accounts in Ukraine, said on Monday that it was also making this change in Russia in response to public reports that civil society and protesters were under attack.

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