(Reuters) – Facebook Inc. said on Wednesday that it had blocked a group of hackers in China who used the platform to target Uighurs living abroad with links to malicious code that would infect their devices and allow surveillance.
The social media company said that the hackers, known as Earth Empusa or Evil Eye in the security industry, targeted activists, journalists and dissidents who were predominantly Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group who were persecuted in China.
Facebook said there were less than 500 targets, who were largely from the Xinjiang region but mainly lived abroad in countries such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United States, Syria, Australia and Canada.
It is said that the majority of hackers' activity came from Facebook and that they used website to share links to malicious websites rather than directly share malicious software on the platform.
smile confusingly who is behind it, "said Facebook cyber security investigator in a blog post.
Facebook said the hacking group used fake Facebook accounts to pose fictional journalists, students, human rights defenders or members of Uighur society to build trust for their targets and trick them into clicking malicious links that would install spyware on their devices.
It said that hackers both created malicious websites with similar domains for popular Uighur and Turkish news sites and compromised legitimate websites that the targets visited. websites created by the group to emulate third-party Android app stores with Uighur-themed apps, such as a prayer button and dictionary app, which contains malicious software.
Facebook said the survey found two Chinese companies, Beijing Best United Technology Co. Ltd. (Best Lh) and Dalian 9Rush Technology Co. Ltd. (9Rush) had developed the Android tool used by the group.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately return a message commenting on the Facebook report. Beijing routinely denies allegations of cyber espionage.
Reuters could not immediately find contact information for Dalian 9Rush Technology Co. Ltd. A man who answered the number listed for Beijing Best United Technology Co. Ltd. put on.
Western governments are trying to hold Beijing accountable for mass prisons of Muslim Uighurs in northwestern China, where the United States says China is committing genocide.
China denies all allegations of abuse, saying its camps provide vocational training and are needed to combat extremism.
The United Nations estimates that up to 1
Facebook said they had deleted the group's accounts, which numbered less than 100, and had blocked the sharing of the malicious domains and notified people they thought were targets.