By Tony Winterburn • 24 March 2021 • 21:56
Chinese Hackers Used Facebook To Target Turkic Ethnic Groups Abroad. image: Twitter
Chinese Hackers Used Facebook To Target Turkic Ethnic Groups Abroad.
Tech giant Facebook has said that Chinese hackers have used the platform to attack Uighurs living abroad.
The social media company said the hackers, known as Earth Empusa or Evil Eye in the security industry, targeted activists, journalists and dissidents who were predominantly Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group facing persecution in China.
Facebook said there were less than 500 targets, who were largely from the Xinjiang region but were primarily living abroad in countries including Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United States, Syria, Australia and Canada.
It said the majority of the hackers’ activity occurred away from Facebook and that they used the site to share links to malicious websites rather than directly sharing the malware on the platform.
“This activity had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation while obfuscating who’s behind it,” Facebook cybersecurity investigators said in a blog post.
Facebook said the hacking group were found to be using fake Facebook accounts to pose as fictitious journalists, students, human rights advocates or members of the Uighur community to build trust with their targets and trick them into clicking malicious links.
It said hackers both set up malicious websites using look-alike domains for popular Uighur and Turkish news sites and compromised legitimate websites visited by the targets. Facebook also found websites created by the group to mimic third-party Android app stores with Uighur-themed apps, like a prayer app and dictionary app, containing malware.
Facebook said its investigation found two Chinese companies, Beijing Best United Technology Co Ltd (Best Lh) and Dalian 9Rush Technology Co Ltd (9Rush) had developed the Android tooling deployed by the group.
Facebook said it has now removed the group’s accounts, which numbered less than 100, and had blocked the sharing of the malicious domains and was notifying people it believed were targets.
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