Facebook has taken action against two separate groups of hackers-APT32 in Vietnam and a group based in Bangladesh-removing their ability to use their infrastructure to abuse the platform, distribute malware and hack people’s accounts across the internet.
Facebook’s Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher and Cyber Threat Intelligence Manager Mike Dvilyanski disclosed the matter in a statement on Friday.
“Facebook’s threat intelligence analysts and security experts work to find and stop a wide range of threats including malware campaigns, influence operations and hacking of our platform or individual Facebook accounts by nation state adversaries, hackers and others. As part of these efforts, our teams routinely disrupt adversary operations by disabling them, notifying users if they should take steps to protect their accounts, sharing our findings publicly and continuing to improve the security of our products,” said the statement.
It said, “Today we’re sharing our latest research and enforcement actions against attempts to compromise people’s accounts and gain access to their information, commonly referred to as cyber espionage. These two unconnected groups targeted people on our platform and elsewhere on the internet using very different tactics”.
The operation from Vietnam focused primarily on spreading malware to its targets, whereas the operation from Bangladesh focused on compromising accounts across platforms and coordinating reporting to get targeted accounts and Pages removed from Facebook, the statement said.
On Bangladesh, the statement said, “The Bangladesh-based group targeted local activists, journalists and religious minorities, including those living abroad, to compromise their accounts and have some of them disabled by Facebook for violating our Community Standards.”
Facebook investigation linked this activity to two non-profit organizations in Bangladesh: Don’s Team (also known as Defense of Nation) and the Crime Research and Analysis Foundation (CRAF). They appeared to be operating across a number of internet services.
Don’s Team and CRAF collaborated to report people on Facebook for fictitious violations of our Community Standards, including alleged impersonation, intellectual property infringements, nudity and terrorism. They also hacked people’s accounts and Pages, and used some of these compromised accounts for their own operational purposes, including to amplify their content.
Facebook’s Head of Security Policy and Cyber Threat Intelligence said, “On at least one occasion, after a Page admin’s account was compromised, they removed the remaining admins to take over and disable the Page. Our investigation suggests that these targeted hacking attempts were likely carried out through a number of off-platform tactics including email and device compromise and abuse of our account recovery process.”
“To disrupt this activity, we removed the accounts and Pages behind this operation. We shared information about this group with our industry partners so they too can detect and stop this activity. We encourage people to remain vigilant and take steps to protect their accounts, avoid clicking on suspicious links and downloading software from untrusted sources that can compromise their devices and information stored on them,” the statement said.