Wednesday, Facebook disclosed that a Chinese hacker group had attempted to use its platform to target people from the Uyghur community. The company claims the collective, known as Earth Empusa or Evil Eye, has attacked around 500 people, many of whom were activists, journalists and dissidents living abroad in countries like the United States. United, Australia and Canada. Uyghurs are a predominantly Turkish Muslim minority ethnic group who are persecuted in China, and was targeted by Evil Eye in the past.
In this case, the group’s efforts have been deep and multifaceted. Hackers created fake Facebook accounts to impersonate members of the Uighur community to try and trick their targets by clicking on links to malicious websites. They also set up fake websites and an Android app store to distribute software with malware hidden in its code. The company linked these malicious apps to two Chinese developers, but refrained from involving the Chinese government in the campaign. “This activity had the hallmarks of a well-funded and persistent operation, while concealing who is behind it,” Facebook said.
On Facebook itself, the group’s efforts have mainly been to use the platform to send links to malicious websites instead of directly sharing the malware. Facebook said it has shared its findings with other companies so that they can also detect and stop the group’s hacking attempts.