Facebook’s parent company Meta has revealed that several groups of hackers linked to Russia and Belarus have successfully broken into the Facebook accounts of Ukrainian military officials.
The report comes in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has reportedly involved cyberattacks.
According to Meta, hackers have pretended to be journalists and independent online news outlets to push Russian talking points on the platform. They have also run coordinated campaigns to remove social media posts that oppose the Russian government.
The company further revealed that the hackers posted videos calling on the Ukrainian military to surrender to Russian forces in Kyiv.
About 200 accounts operated from Russia that repeatedly filed false reports about people in Ukraine have been removed.
“Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we’ve seen attacks on internet freedom and access to intensify information sharply,” Meta global affairs president Nick Clegg said, as quoted by CBS News.
He added that the cyberattacks were manifested through Russian state propaganda, media influence operations, and espionage campaigns to disrupt the flow of credible information.
Apart from Ukrainian military officials, the hackers have reportedly targeted government agencies, media groups, and telecommunications in Ukraine.
Last month, hackers launched a “sophisticated and massive” attack against Ukraine’s biggest fixed-line telecommunications company Ukrtelecom.
Launched from inside Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory, the attack attempted to disable the company’s servers and change employees’ account passwords.
On Thursday, the Security Service of Ukraine said it uncovered a text message campaign to the Ukrainian military demanding that they defect and surrender to Russian forces.
“The outcome of events is predetermined!” the messages said. “Be prudent and refuse to support nationalism and leaders of the country who discredited themselves and already fled the capital!!!”
Ukrainian #CyberDigest: Between March 23 and March 29, #CERTUA registered 65 #cyberattacks in total, which is five attacks more than the previous week. Both focus and popular methods of attacks remain unchanged.#UkraineRussianWar#Ukraine️#UkraineUnderAttaсk#russianhackers pic.twitter.com/RASNROLh5f
— SSSCIP Ukraine (@dsszzi) April 7, 2022
US to the Rescue
Several US officials said last week that the FBI had disrupted Russian military hackers by hijacking the same infrastructure Moscow’s spies were using.
An affidavit described the operation as a “pre-emptive move” to stop Russian hackers from mobilizing a network of hacked computers that could bombard other servers with rogue traffic.
“Fortunately, we were able to disrupt this botnet before it could be used,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland told Reuters.