Facebook may be banned in China, but the company on Wednesday said it has disrupted a network of bad actors using its platform to target the Uyghur community and lure them into downloading malicious software that would allow surveillance of their devices.
“They targeted activists, journalists and dissidents predominantly among Uyghurs from Xinjiang in China primarily living abroad in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United States, Syria, Australia, Canada and other countries,” Facebook’s Head of Cyber Espionage Investigations, Mike Dvilyanski, and Head of Security Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said. “This group used various cyber espionage tactics to identify its targets and infect their devices with malware to enable surveillance.”
The social media giant said the “well-resourced and persistent operation” aligned with a threat actor known as Evil Eye (or Earth Empusa), a China-based collective known for its history of espionage attacks against the Muslim minority in the nation at least since August 2019 via “strategically compromised websites” by exploiting iOS and Android devices as an attack surface to gain access to Gmail accounts.
The disclosures come days after the European Union,…