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Facebook accounts of Ukrainian soldiers targeted by hackers, Meta says

CNN Business

Facebook’s parent company Meta (FB) on Thursday detailed an array of shady cyber tactics it says are being used by groups linked to Russia and Belarus to target Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

The tactics used by the groups, according to Meta, include impersonating independent journalists and news outlets online to advance Russian talking points, attempting to hack into dozens of Ukrainian soldiers’ Facebook accounts, and to carry out coordinated campaigns to try to get messages of criticism from Russia. removed from social media.

Meta said a hacking group known as “Ghostwriter”, which cyber experts say is linked to Belarus, tried to hack the Facebook accounts of dozens of Ukrainian servicemen.

The hackers succeeded in “a handful of cases,” Meta said, and “they posted videos calling for the military to surrender as if those messages were from the rightful account owners. We blocked those videos from being shared.

Meta also noted that actions by groups linked to the Russian and Belarusian government appeared to intensify shortly before the invasion. The company said it observed that accounts linked to the Belarusian KGB “suddenly began posting in Polish and English about Ukrainian troops surrendering without a fight and the nation’s leaders fleeing the country on February 24, the day Russia started the war”.

Meta also said it removed a network of around 200 accounts operated from Russia that repeatedly filed false reports about people in Ukraine and Russia in an effort to have them and their posts removed from the platform. -form. Accounts have regularly reported to Meta falsely that people in Ukraine and Russia have violated the company’s rules on hate speech as well as other policies. This tactic, known as “mass reporting,” is commonly used by people trying to shut down an adversary’s social media accounts.

Vadym Hudyma, co-founder of Digital Security Lab Ukraine, an organization that helps secure the online accounts of journalists and activists, said Russia’s invasion has led to a “huge increase in attacks on media accounts social media through mass reporting”.

Many of the targeted Twitter and Facebook accounts were unverified, making it more difficult to retrieve accounts from organizations that, for example, were raising funds and coordinating medical supplies in response to the Russian invasion, Hudyma said. at CNN.

“Many social media pages have been temporarily shut down. We probably picked up most of them pretty quickly. But it was a mess.

Meta also said he continues to see the use of fake profile pictures in disinformation campaigns.

In a previous announcement in February, Meta said it uncovered and shut down a covert Russian influence operation that ran accounts impersonating people in Kyiv, including editors, and targeting Ukrainians.

“They claimed to be based in kyiv and impersonated editors, a former aeronautical engineer and the author of a scientific publication on hydrography – the science of water mapping,” Meta said in a blog post.

Meta linked the fake accounts to people previously sanctioned by the US government. The accounts and websites run by this influence operation appear to have failed to reach large numbers of people, according to data reviewed by CNN.

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