Three networks of fake accounts linked to Russian military intelligence and the Internet Research Agency were removed by Facebook on Thursday.
NPR reported that US. Intelligence officials warned the companies of Russia’s intentions to undermine Joe Biden’s campaign by hacking the accounts of political figures, stealing sensitive information, manipulating it, and strategically releasing it in a “hack and leak” operation.
Facebook’s head of security, Nathaniel Gleicher wrote in a blogpost that the accounts involved did not directly target the upcoming election but had been accused by US law enforcement of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.
According to Facebook, several of the individuals behind the fake accounts are linked to the Petersburg-based “troll” company, the Internet Research Agency, that was indicted in 2018 over meddling in the 2016 election. Both Twitter and Facebook removed these networks of accounts from their sites earlier this month after being tipped off by the FBI.
Gleicher said to Reuters, “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. 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.”
The third network linked to the Internet Research Agency, comprising just 10 accounts, primarily focused on targeting Turkey, Europe, and the US, according to Facebook.
Facebook also said that the networks connected to Russian military intelligence primarily targeted audiences in the Far East, such as the Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, and Belarus.
“They frequently posted about news and current events, including the Syrian civil war, Turkish domestic politics, geopolitical issues in the Asia-Pacific region, NATO, the war in Ukraine, and politics in the Baltics, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and the US,” Facebook said.
Previously this month, Microsoft also said that individuals linked to Russia, China, and Iran were attempting to hack into politicians’ accounts to find out information on President Donald Trump and his opposition, Joe Biden.
Russia has denied that it interfered in the 2016 election.
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