(San Francisco) The social network said on Wednesday that Chinese hacker groups are using Facebook and other websites and mobile applications to besiege and spy on Uighurs in various countries, including Canada, without attributing the practices to the Chinese government.
“Nous voyons des liens clairs avec les entreprises et les emplacements géographiques de cette activité, mais nous ne pouvons pas formellement prouver qui est derrière cette opération”, a précisé Nathaniel Gleicher, le responsable des règors d’sécurité, Facebook Press Conference.
Hackers target hundreds of Uyghur activists, journalists and dissidents living abroad. They trick them into clicking on deceptive links and websites that infect computers or smartphones with spyware, according to the California-based company.
“This activity has all the hallmarks of a long-term process, with substantial means that conceal those responsible,” said Mr. Gleicher in a press release.
According to its cybersecurity team, the maneuvers of the hackers are mainly taking place outside of Facebook, on legitimate but hacked news sites or via fake apps that may interest this persecuted Muslim minority in China (such as dictionaries, prayer apps, etc.). .
This is the so-called “irrigation hole” technique, which involves hitting a place people go without suspicion.
Trapped with confidence
On the social network, hackers pretend to be journalists, human rights defenders, or community members in order to create trust relationships and draw them into a trap. These tactics allow spies to access information, cameras, and microphones on their victims’ phones.
The targeted Uyghurs come from Xinjiang, China, and live in Australia, Canada, the United States, Kazakhstan, Syria, Turkey and other countries.
Even though a small number of users are affected, less than 500 users worldwide in this case, the impact can be severe – you can imagine the monitoring in action.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Facebook Security Policy
Facebook says it has banned the sharing of blockaded domain names on its platform, removed group accounts and warned people involved. The company has also shared the information with other social networks.
The pirate groups are known as “Earth Empusa,” “Poison Carp,” or “Evil Eye.”
The United States and several European countries recently tightened their tone against China, which it accuses of detaining hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims and imposing “sterilization operations and forced labor” on them. Beijing categorically denies these facts.