On Wednesday, Facebook announced its effort to fight back against the attacks on Uyghur activists, allegedly launched by Chinese hackers who are exercising potent iPhone and Android spyware. Using Facebook, the hacking group, previously dubbed Evil Eye, set up fake announcements posing as pro-Uyghur protestors and journalists covering their cause.
After creating a link with their targets, they then forward them users link to either malicious websites that they hacked and lace-up with iOS malware or to phishing websites they would create with domains that have a similar look as those of popular Turkish and Uyghur news websites. However, the majority of the malicious activity took place rather than on Facebook, according to the head of security policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher.
The hacker carried out hacking attempts across 2019 and 2020. Targets included journalists, activists, and dissenters, mainly among Uyghurs living abroad in the United States, Canada, Australia, Central Asian, and Central Asian countries. Gleicher says that they are informing the victims of the attacks. Furthermore, he called those attacks super-targeted espionage, with targets totaling less than five hundred on Facebook. It was the inverse of what the social media giant saw in widespread disinformation campaigns on Facebook.
Facebook hoping for Deterrent against hackers
Facebook’s head of cyber espionage investigations, Mike Dvilyanski, told Forbes that the hacker’s spyware was fairly sophisticated, though there was no evidence they would use zero-days in recent hacking attacks, even if they saw past attacks on Android and iOS users. The malware was able to spy on almost all personal information on a device, including locations, messages, calls, contacts, and photos, and it could listen through the device by turning the microphone on.
Furthermore, Facebook is hopeful that calling the hacks out will ultimately have ab effect on discouraging the hacker’s team. They did see this hacking group react and change their intensity and know they are sensitive to these leaks. Google researchers spotted the same hackers in 2019, also targeting Android and iPhone users from the Chinese ethnic Muslim population of far-western province Xinjiang.