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Facebook Testing Default End-to-End Encryption and Encrypted Backups in Messenger

Facebook Testing Default End-to-End Encryption and Encrypted Backups in Messenger

August 12, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Social media company Meta said it will begin testing end-to-end encryption (E2EE) on its Messenger platform this week for select users as the default option, as the company continues to slowly add security layers to its various chat services. "If you're in the test group, some of your most frequent chats may be automatically end-to-end encrypted, which means you won't have to opt in to the feature," Sara Su, product management director of Messenger Trust,  said . The incremental development comes a year after it  turned on E2EE  for audio and video calls on the messaging service as well as for one-on-one chats in Instagram, and enabled  encrypted chat backups  for WhatsApp on Android and iOS. E2EE is a secure communication mechanism that scrambles data in transit and prevents third-parties from unauthorizedly accessing information sent from one endpoint to another, including Meta. "This is because with end-to-end encryption, your messages are secured with a
Meta Cracks Down on Cyber Espionage Operations in South Asia Abusing Facebook

Meta Cracks Down on Cyber Espionage Operations in South Asia Abusing Facebook

August 08, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook parent company Meta disclosed that it took action against two espionage operations in South Asia that leveraged its social media platforms to distribute malware to potential targets. The first set of activities is what the company described as "persistent and well-resourced" and undertaken by a hacking group tracked under the moniker Bitter APT (aka APT-C-08 or T-APT-17) targeting individuals in New Zealand, India, Pakistan, and the U.K. "Bitter used various malicious tactics to target people online with social engineering and infect their devices with malware," Meta  said  in its Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report. "They used a mix of link-shortening services, malicious domains, compromised websites, and third-party hosting providers to distribute their malware." The attacks involved the threat actor creating fictitious personas on the platform, masquerading as attractive young women in a bid to build trust with targets and lure them into cl
New Ducktail Infostealer Malware Targeting Facebook Business and Ad Accounts

New Ducktail Infostealer Malware Targeting Facebook Business and Ad Accounts

July 27, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook business and advertising accounts are at the receiving end of an ongoing campaign dubbed  Ducktail  designed to seize control as part of a financially driven cybercriminal operation.  "The threat actor targets individuals and employees that may have access to a Facebook Business account with an information-stealer malware," Finnish cybersecurity company WithSecure (formerly F-Secure Business)  said  in a new report. "The malware is designed to steal browser cookies and take advantage of authenticated Facebook sessions to steal information from the victim's Facebook account and ultimately hijack any Facebook Business account that the victim has sufficient access to." The attacks, attributed to a Vietnamese threat actor, are said to have begun in the latter half of 2021, with primary targets being individuals with managerial, digital marketing, digital media, and human resources roles in companies. The idea is to target employees with high-level acc
Cytrox's Predator Spyware Targeted Android Users with Zero-Day Exploits

Cytrox's Predator Spyware Targeted Android Users with Zero-Day Exploits

May 20, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) on Thursday pointed fingers at a North Macedonian spyware developer named Cytrox for developing exploits against five zero-day (aka 0-day) flaws, four in Chrome and one in Android, to target Android users. "The 0-day exploits were used alongside n-day exploits as the developers took advantage of the time difference between when some critical bugs were patched but not flagged as security issues and when these patches were fully deployed across the Android ecosystem," TAG researchers Clement Lecigne and Christian Resell  said . Cytrox is alleged to have packaged the exploits and sold them to different government-backed actors located in Egypt, Armenia, Greece, Madagascar, Côte d'Ivoire, Serbia, Spain, and Indonesia, who, in turn, weaponized the bugs in at least three different campaigns. The commercial surveillance company is the maker of  Predator , an implant  analogous  to that of NSO Group's  Pegasus , and is known to hav
Facebook Hit With $18.6 Million GDPR Fine Over 12 Data Breaches in 2018

Facebook Hit With $18.6 Million GDPR Fine Over 12 Data Breaches in 2018

March 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) on Tuesday slapped Facebook and WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms a fine of €17 million (~$18.6 million) for a series of security lapses that occurred in violation of the European Union's  GDPR laws  in the region. "The DPC found that Meta Platforms failed to have in place appropriate technical and organizational measures which would enable it to readily demonstrate the security measures that it implemented in practice to protect EU users' data, in the context of the twelve personal data breaches," the watchdog  said  in a press release. The decision follows the regulator's investigation into 12  data   breach   notifications  it received over the course of a six-month period between June 7 and December 4, 2018. "This fine is about record keeping practices from 2018 that we have since updated, not a failure to protect people's information," Meta  said  in a statement shared with the Associated Press. "
Facebook Agrees to Pay $90 Million to Settle Decade-Old Privacy Violation Case

Facebook Agrees to Pay $90 Million to Settle Decade-Old Privacy Violation Case

February 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Meta Platforms has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a lawsuit over the company's use of cookies to allegedly track Facebook users' internet activity even after they had logged off from the platform. In addition, the social media company will be required to delete all of the data it illegally collected from those users. The development was first reported by  Variety . The decade-old case, filed in 2012, centered around Facebook's use of the proprietary "Like" button to track users as they visited third-party websites – regardless of whether they actually used the button – in violation of the federal wiretapping laws, and then allegedly compiling those browsing histories into profiles for selling the information to advertisers. Based on the terms of the proposed settlement, users who browsed non-Facebook websites that included the "Like" button between April 22, 2010, and September 26, 2011, will be covered. "Reaching a settlement in this cas
Facebook Launches 'Privacy Center' to Educate Users on Data Collection and Privacy Options

Facebook Launches 'Privacy Center' to Educate Users on Data Collection and Privacy Options

January 08, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook, on Friday announced the launch of a centralized Privacy Center that aims to "educate people" about its approach with regards to how it collects and processes personal information across its family of social media apps. "Privacy Center provides helpful information about five common privacy topics: sharing, security, data collection, data use and ads," the social technology firm  said  in a press release. The first module, Security, will offer easy access to common tools such as account security settings and two-factor authentication. Sharing will provide specifics about post visibility and settings to archive or trash old posts. Collection and Use will give users a quick glance into the type of data Meta harvests and learn how and why it's used, respectively. Lastly, the Ads section will furnish information regarding a user's ad preferences. The learning hub is expected to be initially limited to a s
France Fines Google, Facebook €210 Million Over Privacy Violating Tracking Cookies

France Fines Google, Facebook €210 Million Over Privacy Violating Tracking Cookies

January 07, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL), France's data protection watchdog, has slapped Facebook (now Meta Platforms) and Google with fines of €150 million ($170 million) and €60 million ($68 million) for violating E.U. privacy rules by failing to provide users with an easy option to reject cookie tracking technology. "The websites facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies," the  authority   said . "However, they do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the Internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies." Facebook told  TechCrunch  that it was reviewing the ruling, while Google said it's working to change its practices in response to the CNIL fines. HTTP cookies are small pieces of data created while a user is browsing a website and placed on the user's computer or other device by the user's web browser to track online
Meta Sues Hackers Behind Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram Phishing Attacks

Meta Sues Hackers Behind Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram Phishing Attacks

December 21, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook's parent company Meta Platforms on Monday said it has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. state of California against bad actors who operated more than 39,000 phishing websites that impersonated its digital properties to mislead unsuspecting users into divulging their login credentials. The social engineering scheme involved the creation of rogue webpages that masqueraded as the login pages of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, on which victims were prompted to enter their usernames and passwords that were then harvested by the defendants. The tech giant is also seeking $500,000 from the anonymous actors. The attacks were carried out using a relay service, Ngrok , that redirected internet traffic to the phishing websites in a manner that concealed the true location of the fraudulent infrastructure. Meta said the volume of these phishing attacks ramped up in volume since March 2021 and that it worked with the relay service to suspend thousands of URLs to the
Facebook Bans 7 'Cyber Mercenary' Companies for Spying on 50,000 Users

Facebook Bans 7 'Cyber Mercenary' Companies for Spying on 50,000 Users

December 17, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Meta Platforms on Thursday revealed it took steps to deplatform seven cyber mercenaries that it said carried out "indiscriminate" targeting of journalists, dissidents, critics of authoritarian regimes, families of opposition, and human rights activists located in over 100 countries, amid mounting scrutiny of surveillance technologies. To that end, the company  said  it alerted 50,000 users of Facebook and Instagram that their accounts were spied on by the companies, who offer a variety of services that run the spyware gamut from hacking tools for infiltrating mobile phones to creating fake social media accounts to monitor targets. It also removed 1,500 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to these firms. "The global surveillance-for-hire industry targets people across the internet to collect intelligence, manipulate them into revealing information and compromise their devices and accounts," Meta's David Agranovich and Mike Dvilyanski said. "These compa
Facebook to Pay Hackers for Reporting Data Scraping Bugs and Scraped Datasets

Facebook to Pay Hackers for Reporting Data Scraping Bugs and Scraped Datasets

December 15, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook, has announced that it's expanding its  bug bounty program  to start rewarding valid reports of scraping vulnerabilities across its platforms as well as include reports of scraping data sets that are available online. "We know that automated activity designed to scrape people's public and private data targets every website or service," said Dan Gurfinkel, security engineering manager at Meta. "We also know that it is a highly adversarial space where scrapers — be it malicious apps, websites or scripts — constantly adapt their tactics to evade detection in response to the defenses we build and improve." To that end, the social media giant aims to  monetarily compensate  for valid reports of scraping bugs in its service and identify unprotected or openly public databases containing no less than 100,000 unique Facebook user records with personally identifiable information (PII) such as email, phone numb
Researchers Detail How Pakistani Hackers Targeting Indian and Afghan Governments

Researchers Detail How Pakistani Hackers Targeting Indian and Afghan Governments

December 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A Pakistani threat actor successfully socially engineered a number of ministries in Afghanistan and a shared government computer in India to steal sensitive Google, Twitter, and Facebook credentials from its targets and stealthily obtain access to government portals. Malwarebytes' latest findings go into detail about the new tactics and tools adopted by the APT group known as  SideCopy , which is so-called because of its attempts to mimic the infection chains associated with another group tracked as  SideWinder  and mislead attribution. "The lures used by SideCopy APT are usually archive files that have embedded one of these files: LNK, Microsoft Publisher or Trojanized Applications," Malwarebytes researcher Hossein Jazi  said , adding the embedded files are tailored to target government and military officials based in Afghanistan and India. The revelation comes close on the heels of  disclosures  that Meta took steps to block malicious activities carried out by the
Meta Expands Facebook Protect Program to Activists, Journalists, Government Officials

Meta Expands Facebook Protect Program to Activists, Journalists, Government Officials

December 02, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, on Thursday announced an expansion of its Facebook Protect security program to include human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and government officials who are more likely to be targeted by bad actors across its social media platforms. "These people are at the center of critical communities for public debate," said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta. "They enable democratic elections, hold governments and organizations accountable, and defend human rights around the world. Unfortunately this also means that they are highly targeted by bad actors." Facebook Protect , currently being launched globally in phases, enables users who enroll for the initiative to adopt stronger account security protections, like two-factor authentication (2FA), and watch out for potential hacking threats. Meta said more than 1.5 million accounts have enabled Facebook Protect to date, of which nearly 950,000 account
Facebook Postpones Plans for E2E Encryption in Messenger, Instagram Until 2023

Facebook Postpones Plans for E2E Encryption in Messenger, Instagram Until 2023

November 22, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, disclosed that it doesn't intend to roll out default end-to-end encryption (E2EE) across all its messaging services until 2023, pushing its original plans by at least a year. "We're taking our time to get this right and we don't plan to finish the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all our messaging services until sometime in 2023," Meta's head of safety, Antigone Davis,  said  in a post published in The Telegraph over the weekend. The new scheme, described as a "three-pronged approach," aims to employ a mix of non-encrypted data across its apps as well as account information and reports from users to improve safety and combat abuse, noting that the goal is to deter illegal behavior from happening in the first place, giving users more control, and actively encouraging users to flag harmful messages. Meta had previously  outlined  plans to be "fully end-to-en
Facebook Bans Pakistani and Syrian Hacker Groups for Abusing its Platform

Facebook Bans Pakistani and Syrian Hacker Groups for Abusing its Platform

November 17, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, announced Tuesday that it took action against four separate malicious cyber groups from Pakistan and Syria who were found targeting people in Afghanistan, as well as journalists, humanitarian organizations, and anti-regime military forces in the West Asian country. The Pakistani threat actor, dubbed  SideCopy , is said to have used the platform to single out people with ties to the Afghan government, military and law enforcement in Kabul. The campaign, which Meta dubbed as a "well-resourced and persistent operation," involved sending malicious links, often shortened using URL shortener services, to websites hosting malware between April and August of 2021, what with the operators posing as young women and tricking the recipients with romantic lures in a bid to make them click on phishing links or download trojanized chat applications. Meta's threat intelligence analysts said these apps were a front for two distinct malwa
Facebook to Shut Down Facial Recognition System and Delete Billions of Records

Facebook to Shut Down Facial Recognition System and Delete Billions of Records

November 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook's  newly-rebranded  parent company Meta on Tuesday announced plans to discontinue its decade-old "Face Recognition" system and delete a massive trove of more than a billion users' facial recognition templates as part of a wider initiative to limit the use of the technology across its products. The Menlo Park tech giant  described  the about-face as "one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology's history." The shutdown, which is expected to take place over the coming weeks, will mean users who have previously opted into the setting will no longer be automatically recognized in Memories, photos and videos or see suggested tags with their name in photos and videos they may appear in. Furthermore, the company's Automatic Alt Text (AAT) tool, which creates image descriptions for visually impaired people, will no longer include the names of people identified in photos. Facebook's discontinuing of the program com
Facebook Releases New Tool That Finds Security and Privacy Bugs in Android Apps

Facebook Releases New Tool That Finds Security and Privacy Bugs in Android Apps

September 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook on Wednesday announced it's open-sourcing  Mariana Trench , an Android-focused static analysis platform the company uses to detect and prevent security and privacy bugs in applications created for the mobile operating system at scale. "[Mariana Trench] is designed to be able to scan large mobile codebases and flag potential issues on  pull requests  before they make it into production," the Menlo Park-based social tech behemoth said . In a nutshell, the utility allows developers to frame rules for different data flows to scan the codebase for in order to unearth potential issues — say,  intent   redirection   flaws  that could result in the leak of sensitive data or injection vulnerabilities that would allow adversaries to insert arbitrary code — explicitly setting boundaries as to where user-supplied data entering the app is allowed to come from (source) and flow into (sink) such as methods that can execute code and retrieve or interact with user data. Dat
Beware! New Android Malware Hacks Thousands of Facebook Accounts

Beware! New Android Malware Hacks Thousands of Facebook Accounts

August 09, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A new Android trojan has been found to compromise Facebook accounts of over 10,000 users in at least 144 countries since March 2021 via fraudulent apps distributed through Google Play Store and other third-party app marketplaces. Dubbed " FlyTrap ," the previously undocumented malware is believed to be part of a family of trojans that employ social engineering tricks to breach Facebook accounts as part of a session hijacking campaign orchestrated by malicious actors operating out of Vietnam, according to a  report  published by Zimperium's zLabs today and shared with The Hacker News. Although the offending nine applications have since been pulled from Google Play, they continue to be available in third-party app stores, "highlighting the risk of sideloaded applications to mobile endpoints and user data," Zimperium malware researcher Aazim Yaswant said. The list of apps is as follows - GG Voucher (com.luxcarad.cardid)  Vote European Football (com.gardengu
Facebook Suspends Accounts Used by Iranian Hackers to Target US Military Personnel

Facebook Suspends Accounts Used by Iranian Hackers to Target US Military Personnel

July 16, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook on Thursday disclosed it dismantled a "sophisticated" online cyber espionage campaign conducted by Iranian hackers targeting about 200 military personnel and companies in the defense and aerospace sectors in the U.S., U.K., and Europe using fake online personas on its platform. The social media giant pinned the attacks to a threat actor known as  Tortoiseshell  (aka Imperial Kitten) based on the fact that the adversary used similar techniques in past campaigns attributed to the threat group, which was  previously   known  to focus on the information technology industry in Saudi Arabia, suggesting an apparent expansion of malicious activity. "This group used various malicious tactics to identify its targets and infect their devices with malware to enable espionage,"  said  Mike Dvilyanski, Head of Cyber Espionage Investigations, and David Agranovich, Director, Threat Disruption, at Facebook. "This activity had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and
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