Category Archives: Israel

Facebook banned Archimedes Group, misinformation made in Israel

A new political misinformation campaign was uncovered and blocked by Facebook, this time it was not operated by Russia but Israel’s Archimedes Group

Facebook uncovered and blocked a misinformation campaign powered by Israel’ Archimedes Group, the corporation used fake accounts to manipulated political campaigns.

According to Facebook, the Archimedes Group used hundreds of pages, accounts, and groups in the attempt to influence the public sentiment on political discussions.

The misinformation focused on specific countries in Africa (Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger, and Tunisia), Latin America and Southeast Asia. The operators behind this campaign posed themselves as local people and organizations to fuel the debate on specific political events.

“Today we removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, Facebook Pages, Groups and events involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior. This activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia.” wrote Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of cybersecurity Policy at Facebook. “The people behind this network used fake accounts to run Pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement.”

Facebook banned Archimedes Group and all of its subsidiaries from its social media platforms.

Facebook shared some interesting details about the efforts of the corporations in spreading fake news to change the perception of the reality:

  • Presence on Facebook and Instagram: 65 Facebook accounts, 161 Pages, 23 Groups, 12 events and four Instagram accounts.
  • Followers: About 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 5,500accounts joined at least one of these Groups and around 920 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
  • Advertising: Around $812,000 in spending for ads on Facebook paid for in Brazilian reals, Israeli shekel, and US dollars. The first ad ran in December 2012 and the most recent ad ran in April 2019.
  • Events: Nine events were hosted by these Pages. The first was scheduled for October 2017 and the most recent was scheduled for May 2019. Up to 2,900 people expressed interest in at least one of these events, and a portion of their accounts were previously identified and disabled as fake. We cannot confirm whether any of these events actually occurred.

Facebook provided an example of the type of content that was removed, the following image is related to Martin Fayulu, leader of the Engagement for Citizenship and Development party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

screenshot-2019-05-17-at-07-17-23.png

Archimedes Group invested a total of $812,000 on Facebook ads, these figures could give you an idea about the strategic importance of social networks in misinformation campaigns.

“It has repeatedly violated our misrepresentation and other policies, including by engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Facebook says. “This organization and all its subsidiaries are now banned from Facebook, and it has been issued a cease and desist letter.”

Now the question is, who paid this campaign?

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Facebook, Archimedes Group

The post Facebook banned Archimedes Group, misinformation made in Israel appeared first on Security Affairs.

Israeli firm linked to WhatsApp spyware attack faces lawsuit

Amnesty International fears its staff may be ‘surveilled via NSO Pegasus software’

The Israeli firm linked to this week’s WhatsApp hack is facing a lawsuit backed by Amnesty International, which says it fears its staff may be under surveillance from spyware installed via the messaging service.

Related: WhatsApp urges users to update app after discovering spyware vulnerability

Related: WhatsApp spyware attack was attempt to hack human rights data, says lawyer

Related: WhatsApp hack: have I been affected and what should I do?

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The Guardian view on hacking: a dangerous arms trade | Editorial

Cyberweapons are dangerous in themselves. Their proliferation makes them much more harmful

NSO Group, an Israeli firm that has risen to a billion-dollar valuation on the strength of the aggressive hacking tools it sells to authoritarian governments across the Arab world, is being sued by lawyers and activists who claim to be victims of its software. One of the lawyers involved in the suit was targeted some weeks ago by mysterious WhatsApp calls to his phone in the middle of the night. When he contacted technical experts, they discovered Pegasus 3, an aggressive virus that can apparently install itself on a phone without the victim taking any action at all. Once installed, it takes control of the device, recording conversations and video. It can destroy the evidence of its own arrival and existence, and control any files on the device. In effect, it turns a smartphone into the perfect spying device, which the victim will carry everywhere with them.

Similar programs are widely available to abusers of all sorts, which is one reason why many domestic violence shelters ban the use of smartphones. But the ones that can easily be bought require some action from the victim, usually a misplaced click, or else a few moments’ access to their phone. The NSO malware targeting WhatsApp is different in that it could install itself without the victim doing anything at all. To discover and exploit the programming mistakes that opened this vulnerability would take years and cost millions of dollars. That is why it’s assumed that only states, or state-backed actors, have the resources to produce them.

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Smashing Security #127: I do love the Dutch

Israel strikes back at Hamas’s hacking HQ, a new sextortion email comes with a twist, and Carole saves the world with some help from hacked Roomba vacuum cleaners.

All this and much more is discussed in the latest edition of the award-winning “Smashing Security” podcast by computer security veterans Graham Cluley and Carole Theriault, joined this week by Malicious Life’s Ran Levi.