EXCLUSIVE Facebook says hackers in Pakistan targeted Afghan users amid government collapse

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Nov 16 (Businesshala) – Hackers in Pakistan used Facebook to target people in Afghanistan with connections to the previous government during the Taliban’s takeover of the country, investigators of the company’s threat said in an interview with Businesshala.

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Facebook (FB.O) said the group, known in the security industry as SideCopy, shared links to websites hosting malware that could survey people’s devices. Targets included people linked to the government, military and law enforcement in Kabul. Facebook said it removed Sidecopy from its platform in August.

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The social media company, which recently changed its name to Meta, said the group referred to young women as “romantic seduction” by clicking on phishing links or downloading malicious chat apps to create trust and deceive targets. Create imaginary personalities. It also compromised legitimate websites to manipulate people into giving up their Facebook credentials.

“It’s always difficult for us to speculate about the end goal of a threat actor,” said Facebook’s head of cyber espionage investigation Mike DeWilyansky. “We don’t know exactly who was compromised or what the end result was.”

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Major online platforms and email providers including Facebook, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) Google and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) LinkedIn have said they have shut down the accounts of Afghan users during the Taliban intensification. have taken steps to do so. The takeover of the country last summer.

Facebook said it had not previously disclosed the hacking campaign, which it said intensified between April and August because of security concerns about its employees in the country and the need for more work to investigate the network. It said it shared the information with the US State Department at the time it carried out the operation.

Investigators also said Facebook last month disabled the accounts of two hacking groups that it linked to Syrian Air Force intelligence.

Facebook said one group, known as the Syrian Electronic Army, targeted human rights activists, journalists and others opposed to the ruling regime, while others linked to the Free Syrian Army and former Targeted military personnel who had joined opposition forces.

David Agranovich, Facebook’s head of global threat disruption, said cases in Syria and Afghanistan have shown cyber-espionage groups taking advantage of periods of uncertainty during conflict when people may be more vulnerable to manipulation.

The company called a third hacking network in Syria, which it linked to the Syrian government and removed in October, targeting minority groups, activists and members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

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