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Meta Warns of Spyware Targeting iOS, Android, and Windows Devices

Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, released its Adversarial Threat Report for the fourth quarter of 2023, revealing that eight companies based in Italy, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates were engaged in malicious activity in the surveillance-for-hire industry. The company has taken several steps to curb its activities, which included targeting iOS, , and devices with various types of . The was designed to collect and access sensitive information such as device settings, location, photos, contacts, email, SMS, social media, and messaging apps and enable microphone, camera, and screenshot functionality.

The eight companies identified by Meta Platforms are Cy4Gate/ELT Group, RCS Labs, IPS Intelligence, Variston IT, TrueL IT, Protect Electronic Systems, Negg Group, and Mollitiam Industries. According to the report, these companies also engaged in scraping, social engineering, and activities that targeted a wide range of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Skype, , Reddit, , LinkedIn, Quora, Tumblr, VK, Flickr, TikTok, Snapchat, Gettr, Viber, Twitch, and Telegram.

The report further revealed that a network of fictitious personas associated with RCS Labs, owned by Cy4Gate, tricked users into providing their phone numbers and email addresses and clicking on bogus links to conduct surveillance. Similarly, Variston IT used now-removed Facebook and Instagram accounts for development and testing, including sharing malicious links.

Meta Platforms has also identified accounts used by Negg Group and Mollitiam Industries to test the delivery of its and scrape public information. In addition, the report also highlights the action taken by the company on networks from China, Myanmar, and Ukraine exhibiting coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) by removing over 2,000 accounts, Pages, and Groups from Facebook and Instagram.

The Chinese cluster targeted U.S. audiences with content related to criticism of U.S. foreign policy towards Taiwan and Israel and its support of Ukraine. The network originating from Myanmar targeted its own residents with original articles that praised the Burmese army and disparaged the ethnic armed organizations and minority groups. The third cluster used fake Pages and Groups to post content supporting Ukrainian politician Viktor Razvadovskyi while sharing “supportive commentary about the current government and critical commentary about the opposition” in Kazakhstan.

As a countermeasure, Meta Platforms has introduced new features like enabled Control Flow Integrity (CFI) on Messenger for Android and VoIP memory isolation for WhatsApp to make exploitation harder and reduce the overall attack . However, the surveillance industry continues to thrive in myriad, unexpected forms, with new tools like Patternz that leverage real-time bidding (RTB) advertising data gathered from popular apps like 9gag, among others, being discovered by researchers.

Want to read more? Check out the original article available at The Hacker News!

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