Since 2017, Facebook has taken down almost 200 secret malicious operations running on its platform in 42 different languages in 68 countries, as recently confirmed by Meta.
Furthermore, the social network conglomerate has taken steps to disable accounts associated with spyware vendors and block the infrastructures of companies that operate in more than 200 countries across the globe including the following countries:-
- The U.S.
Combatting Covert Influence Operations
There have also been around 900 fake accounts that have been removed from Instagram and Facebook by an unknown group that operates from China.
On December 15, Meta released a Threat Report on the Surveillance-for-Hire Industry that outlined the top threats for the sector.
In most cases, the target audience was people in their own country, and only around one-third aspired solely to international audiences, using their influence to control other countries policies.
Global CIB operations targeted the United States the most, followed by Ukraine and the United Kingdom in terms of the number of targeted countries. CIB networks most frequently originated in Russia, followed by Iran and Mexico as the most common geographical sources.
It has been found that the most common countries that are targeted by influence operations that originate from Russia include:-
- African countries
- The US
At least one of these networks, whether it be home-grown or a foreign network, is believed to have targeted over 100 nations, both at home and abroad.
An Indian firm called CyberRoot Risk Advisory Private operated a network of over 40 accounts on Facebook and Instagram that were being used as a front for a malicious campaign and these accounts were also removed by Meta.
For the purpose of deceiving their targeted audience, CyberRoot created fake accounts based on fictitious characters in order to provide them with false information.
Besides BellTroX, CyberRoot is the second Indian company that has recently come under scrutiny for providing surveillance-for-hire services.
It is important to note that these accounts were engaged in the collection of data from the following entities:-
- Military personnel
- Pro-democracy activists
- Government employees
While all these above-mentioned entities mainly belong to the following countries:-
- The US
Companies like these are part of a rapidly growing industry that provides indiscriminate surveillance services and intrusive software tools.