Facebook has deactivated the account of some online hackers based in China who it accuses of “targeting members of the Uighur community living abroad.” According to the social media giant, these hackers employ deceitful schemes such as hoax websites or mobile applications to target social activists and journalists alike. These malicious actors did this with the intention of keeping tabs on these unsuspecting individuals who might have been unknowingly exposed to the threat.
While most of the attack did not happen on Facebook, the site was however used to share the links to these malicious sites. The Zuckerberg-led company went on to state that the hackers targeted less than 500 accounts and had created around 100 accounts to achieve its nefarious goal. The accounts used to perpetrate these acts have been removed.
Facebook says hackers posed as trusted individuals
In a statement released by Facebook, it fingered a group known as Earth Empusa or Evil Eye as being responsible for the hack. The firm’s head of cyber espionage investigations, Mike Dvilyanski, along with his colleague, the head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said that the hack had “had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation, while obfuscating who’s behind it.”
The statement also revealed that the hackers were able to infect devices of their targets by building trusts through Facebook after posing as a student, journalist, activist and the likes before getting their targets to click on the links. Another way the hackers were able to get their way was by creating fake Uighur-themed apps that were available for download on the Android App Store. They also created similar websites for popular Uighur and Turkish news websites tricking the audience of these news sites unknowingly.
China draws flak for treatment of its Uighur population
China’s Uighur population are majorly from the north-western region of Xinjiang in China. The mostly muslim population have been subject to some level of inhumane treatment from the authorities of the Chinese authorities.
Notably, the actions of the authorities have rightly drawn criticism around the world with some activists believing that millions of Uighurs are being held in detention camps.
The Chinese government have denied these accusations vehemently saying the camps that are in the region are being used as “re-education” facilities to fight against terrorism.