Russian hacker group Ghostwriter has compromised several Ukrainian Facebook accounts to spread disinformation. It would concern accounts of, among others, Ukrainian journalists, politicians, and soldiers, according to Facebook parent company Meta. Forty fake accounts have since been removed.
According to Meta, the Russian hacker group GhostWriter is behind the attacks. In September 2021, the European Union already warned about this hacker group because of the Russian involvement in ‘malicious cyber activities.
The Russian hackers attempted to hack into Ukrainian military personnel and other prominent individuals. They did this by cracking email addresses. They sent emails with malicious links. After they compromised a target’s email, they broke into social media accounts. They then used these accounts to post fake news.
On the acquired Facebook accounts, the hackers posed as Ukrainian journalists and experts. Among other things, they posted YouTube videos in which the Ukrainian army was portrayed weakly. Videos were also shown in which soldiers surrendered to the Russian army.
In recent years, we increasingly read fake news on social media. The Netherlands also has to deal with disinformation. Network Mediawijsheid launched the website isdatechzo.nl at the beginning of February to increase knowledge about fake news. This site explains what fake news is and how it is distributed.
Measures against Russian fake news
The hacked accounts used for the phishing attempts have since been blocked by Meta. The social media platform has taken down a network of 40 fake accounts from Russia and Ukraine.
“We are taking extensive measures to counter the spread of misinformation by expanding our fact-checking capacity in Russian and Ukrainian,” Meta said. The company has also added features in Ukraine to keep users safe. For example, users can lock their Facebook profiles and remove the ability to view and search friends lists. Users can also take steps themselves to better protect themselves. Meta recommends using two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security.
At the request of the government of Ukraine, Meta has restricted access to several accounts in Ukraine, including those of some Russian state media. YouTube and Twitter have also blocked Russian state media from users from Ukraine in recent days.
Google has banned Russian state media from monetizing ads since this weekend.
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