META banned four Israeli firms apparently to defy itself being pro-Israeli organisation
META recently banned four Israeli private cyber firms, as they were identified to be actors behind fishing attacks. This is not the first time Israeli companies have come in limelight for such attacks. Though, NSO group came in limelight initially but both its offshoots and other Israeli cyber mercenaries have been in news later for their surveillance tools and technologies used on dissidents by state actors.
META reported that they banned all together six private firms that were spying from its platform including four companies based in Israel. These companies were “Cyber mercenaries” who attempted to hack and gain access to users accounts.
According to the social media company, it started notifying nearly 50,000 users from 100 different countries whose accounts were in the radar of the hackers to gain admittance to their accounts, the hackers were spying on their activities and tracking their movements.
Fishing attempts were used by the companies to gain access to the targeted phones. The users were unable to detect because of the advanced spyware technologies. Once the hacker gets the admittance, they could control cameras and microphones to spy on their targets.
META reported that one Israeli-based firm, Black cube used forged identities pretence as students, human rights workers, and TV producers to set up calls with their targets and acquire their email addresses.
Second Israeli firm identified as Bluehawk CI by Meta; this company set up accounts on social media with fake ID’s affectation as journalists to trick targets into downloading malware. According to the report, the targets comprised adversaries of UAE and people in Qatar.
Another famous hacker group of Israel is NSO group, who was also behind the spying. This firm produced Pegasus software that has been used by government including Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, to illegally access phone data of campaigners and reporters worldwide.
According to the report, Cognyte is the fourth firm banned by Facebook from its platform as they have targeted journalists and politicians across the world. Their clients were located in countries with doubtful records on human rights.
In a formal statement released by Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at META , he said- “The surveillance-for — hire Industry looks like undiscerning targeting on behalf of the highest bidder”
The proactive security step seems to be taken by META to respond to the allegations it has been facing for supporting Israel. As per Palestinians META suppressed their content without validation. Also, similar accusations of pro-Israeli bias at META were made in October by Journalists of Palestine.
The social media giant is still dealing with the consequence of its past failures to guard its users’ confidentiality. The company was penalized a record $5 billion in 2019 by the Federal Trade Commission for misleading users about their aptitude to regulate the privacy of their data.