Facebook Bans Spy-for-Hire Firms for Targeting 50K People
Facebook’s parent company Meta has reportedly banned seven different actors controlling fake accounts on its social media platform to deceive users and eventually plant malware on targets’ phones. The groups allegedly targeted over 50,000 people in huge schemes designed to spread malware. The banned groups were described as spy-for-hire “cyber mercenaries,” and consisted of 1,500 accounts linked to the spying entities actions, including reconnaissance of, engagement with, and exploitation of the alleged victims. In addition, Facebook banned a mysterious Chinese law-enforcement supplier from the site.
After a months-long investigation, Facebook has issued cease-and-desist warnings to six of the individual groups and has shared its findings with other platforms and security researchers to raise awareness concerning the issue. Meta has also starting issuing warnings to individuals who were targeted, who span across 100 different countries. Meta stated that the surveillance for hire industry targets people to collect intelligence and compromise their devices. Although some of the services may claim to only target criminals or terrorists, Meta found groups targeting journalists, dissidents, critics of authoritarian regimes, families of opposition members, and activists.