Facebook Blocked 7 Surveillance-for-hire Industries that Collect Details & Compromise User Devices

Hundreds of Facebook and Instagram accounts were recently disabled by Facebook, which is owned by Meta incorporation, in an attempt to block 7 surveillance-for-hire industries that collect details and compromise user devices.

In this event, more than 50 thousand people were affected in over 100 countries by the operations of these 7 surveillance-for-hire companies. And here, NSO plays the key role, since, it is only one of the broad pieces of the mercenary in the global cyber industry.


The surveillance-for-hire is a service through which the threat actors targets users globally across the internet to collect and perform the following actions:-

  • Collect intelligence.
  • Manipulate users into revealing information.
  • compromise users’ devices and accounts.

To provide this service, there are several industries or companies that offer intrusive software tools and surveillance services indiscriminately.

The service providers of surveillance-for-hire perform three stages to accomplish the surveillance chain, and here they are:-

  • Reconnaissance
  • Engagement
  • Exploitation  

While these industries were primarily utilized by the government and non-government groups those who don’t have such infrastructures and abilities to execute their operations.

Blocked Surveillance-For-Hire companies

In total, Facebook has banned 7 surveillance-for-hire companies, and here we have mentioned the list of blocked surveillance-for-hire companies which includes:-

  • Cobwebs from Israel
  • Cognyte from Israel
  • Black Cube from Israel
  • Bluehawk CI from Israel
  • BelltroX from India
  • Cytrox from North Macedonia
  • One unidentified spyware & facial recognition software firm from China. 

Currently, Facebook didn’t disclose any details regarding the company itself, but, the security experts at Facebook have hinted that the Chinese law enforcement agencies have used its software.

Methodology & Targets

The threat actors have used several methods to execute their operations, and the methods used by the threat actors are like:-

  • Use of malicious links
  • Phishing websites to collect credentials
  • Malware to infect users’ devices

In these surveillance campaigns, the hackers mainly target the following entities:-

  • Journalists
  • Dissidents
  • Critics of authoritarian regimes.
  • Human rights defenders
  • Families of opposition and human rights activists. 

Facebook’s countermeasures

Facebook has disabled more than 1500 fake accounts that are managed by the above-mentioned surveillance-for-hire companies to target their victims.

One of the spokesperson of Meta Inc. has stated:-

“To support the work of law enforcement, we already have authorized channels where government agencies can submit lawful requests for information, rather than resorting to the surveillance-for-hire industry.”

Moreover, as a final warning, the security analysts of Facebook have already sent termination letters to six of seven of these surveillance companies.

In October 2019 the Israeli hacking tool manufacturer NSO Group has been sued by WhatsApp for aiding hacks carried out in the interests of governments in 20 countries. And in this event, the threat actors have abused more than a hundred members of civil society.

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BALAJI is an Ex-Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.