Facebook suspends fake Russian accounts, warns of U.S. election hack-and-leak threat

LONDON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc on Thursday said it had dismantled three networks of fake accounts which could be used by Russia's intelligence services to leak hacked documents as part of efforts to disrupt the upcoming U.S. election. The company said the accounts, which it suspended for using fake identities and other types of 'coordinated inauthentic behaviour', were linked to Russian intelligence and people associated with a St Petersburg-based organisation accused by U.S

Reuters September 25, 2020 01:05:41 IST
Facebook suspends fake Russian accounts, warns of U.S. election hack-and-leak threat

Facebook suspends fake Russian accounts warns of US election hackandleak threat

LONDON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc on Thursday said it had dismantled three networks of fake accounts which could be used by Russia's intelligence services to leak hacked documents as part of efforts to disrupt the upcoming U.S. election.

The company said the accounts, which it suspended for using fake identities and other types of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour", were linked to Russian intelligence and people associated with a St Petersburg-based organisation accused by U.S. officials of working to sway the 2016 presidential vote.

Russia has repeatedly denied allegations of election meddling and says it does not interfere in the domestic politics of other countries.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said there was no immediate evidence that hacked documents were about to be leaked, but by suspending the accounts Facebook hoped to prevent them being used in any subsequent operation.

"Our team watches for the threats and trends that we need to be ready for and one that we are very aware of ... is a hack-and-leak operation, particularly in the next 6-8 weeks," he told Reuters.

"We want to make sure that the accounts are down to prevent their ability to pivot them to facilitate a hack and leak around the U.S. election."

Facebook said the networks were small with only a handful of accounts on its website and photo-sharing service Instagram, and a combined total of around 97,000 followers.

Twitter said it had worked with Facebook to identify and remove 350 accounts that were operated by state-linked organisations in Russia.

Both companies said one of the networks had been identified following a tip from the FBI, which warned on Tuesday that foreign actors and cybercriminals were likely to spread disinformation about the results of November's election.

The warnings follow an alert by Microsoft earlier this month that hackers linked to Russia, China, and Iran are trying to spy on people tied to both U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, worked with Facebook to analyse the suspended accounts. He said the activity showed Russia was continuing efforts to exacerbate political tensions in the United States and elsewhere.

"That doesn't dismiss the fact that the scale and scope of domestic disinformation is far greater than what any foreign adversary could do," he said. "But Russia's efforts remain an extremely serious national security vulnerability."

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.