Meta takes down Russian troll farm

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  • Aug 05, 2022

Meta takes down Russian troll farm

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Meta says it will continue to crack down on bad actors on its social media sites. The company, which owns Facebook and Instagram, reported on Thursday that earlier this year it removed a Russian-based troll farm from Instagram that was posting fake posts about the war in Ukraine.

The troll farm, dubbed “Cyber ​​Front Z,” based in St. Petersburg, was detected by Meta in mid-March and was gone by early April, said Ben Nimmo, head of global threat intelligence. Meta’s quarterly hostile threat report, released Thursday, also noted that the group has been linked to individuals who have been in contact with the Internet Research Agency, one of the main agencies involved in Russia’s extensive efforts. Interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The report says that since they took it down, the troll farm has tried to come back, but the meta continues to detect these attempts and disable them.

Nimmo said Cyber ​​Front Z recruited dozens of people on the street to make what appeared to be credible posts defending Russia and criticizing Ukraine.

They had a telegram channel telling people to basically post pro-Russian comments on social media posts by public figures, journalists, politicians, celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. Speaking on a press call Thursday, Nimmo said the troll farm targeted users on LinkedIn, Twitter and “many different platforms.”

The troll farm has 45 Facebook accounts and 1,037 Instagram accounts, Meta said in its report. It is also reported that around 49,000 accounts follow one or more Instagram accounts.

Beyond Russia, the report also took meta action against the APT 36 hacking group operating out of Pakistan. The group targeted social media users in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia using various malicious tactics to infect devices with malware.

One interesting detail we see here is the use of social cards, which are online marketing tools that allow people to customize an image to play when a specific URL is shared on social media. This is another attempt here to trick users into trust. Link to them by sharing a custom image, said Mike Dolyansky, Meta’s head of cyber espionage research.

Meta also said it had taken action against a South Asian cyber espionage operation called Bitter APT. The hackers targeted users in New Zealand, India, Pakistan and the UK with the malware.

Bitter APT’s tactics included posing as attractive women, journalists, or activists to build trust with people and get them to click on malicious links or download malware.

The Meta report described the bitter APT attacks as having “relatively low operational complexity and security” but, nonetheless, “persistent and well-resourced.”

Meta’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, expressed hope that by sharing these threats, Meta’s users would be better able to defend against these attacks.

“More bad actors will engage in cyber espionage and intrusion prevention. Because these tools are commodity, there are many different malware systems that people can exploit. This means that sophisticated threat actors can be in the noise.” hide and create it. Sometimes it’s harder to tell who’s doing what and why.”

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