Facebook said the aim of the phishing scam is to trick Uyghur audiences into clicking false content links – either from a computer or a smartphone – in order to infect the device with malware. Jenny Kane / AP hide caption
Jenny Kane / AP
Jenny Kane / AP
Chinese hackers used fake Facebook profiles and fake websites to target Uyghur activists with spy malware, the social media company said on Wednesday.
Using various cyber espionage tactics, Facebook members said Earth Empusa or Evil look visited Muslim Uighur activists, journalists and dissidents from the Xinjiang region of China. However, according to a research by the company, the challenging operation also extended to people living in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Syria, Australia, Canada and the United States.
“This activity had the hallmarks of well-resourced and sustained surgery while hiding who was behind it,” said Facebook cybersecurity investigators in one Explanation.
The aim of the phishing scam was to trick Uyghur audiences into clicking false content links – either from a computer or smartphone – in order to infect the device with malware. In addition to posing as journalists and Uyghur activists, the hackers developed fake apps and set up scam websites with almost identical URLs to real news sites popular with Uyghurs.
“On our platform, this cyber espionage campaign mainly manifested itself as sending links to malicious websites rather than directly distributing the malware itself,” the company said.
According to Facebook, fewer than 500 people were affected.
As a result, officials said they deleted the group’s accounts – around 100 – and notified the people believed to have been attacked by the hackers. They also shared the results with industry colleagues.
China is believed to have held hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in mass detention centers that have been called “No rights” zones through a United Nations report. Chinese officials say the camps and Uighur arrests are part of their fight against terrorism.
A 2019 buzzfeed detection found that the Chinese state media paid Facebook to run three ads “apparently designed to challenge human rights abuses under the government’s mass incarceration of Muslim minorities,” claiming the detention centers would not have interfered with religious beliefs and practices. The target audience for the ads was in the US and other countries.
The latest announcement from Facebook comes just days after that The US has joined the EU and other allies in imposing a number of sanctions on China for treating the group.