Facebook parent Meta on Thursday banned a series of “cyber mercenary” groups and began alerting some 50,000 people likely targeted by the firms accused of spying on activists, dissidents and journalists worldwide.
Meta took down 1,500 Facebook and Instagram pages linked to groups with services allegedly ranging from scooping up public information online to using fake personas to build trust with targets or digital snooping via hack attacks.
The Facebook parent said it deleted accounts tied to Cobwebs Technologies, Cognyte, Black Cube and Bluehawk CI — all of which were based or founded in Israel. India-based BellTroX, North Macedonian firm Cytrox and an unidentified entity in China also saw accounts linked to them removed from Meta platforms.
While Meta was not able to pinpoint who was running the unnamed Chinese operation, it traced “command and control” of the surveillance tool involved to servers that appeared to be used by law enforcement officials in China.