Meta announces security updates in Russia and Ukraine

HomeIn-FocusMeta announces security updates in Russia and Ukraine

After rolling out additional privacy and security protections in Ukraine, Meta has announced to add them in Russia as well. The decision has been taken in response to public reports targeting civil society and protesters.

Account Security

To protect themselves from being targeted by threat actors, Meta has recommended that people in Ukraine and Russia must take steps to strengthen the security of their online accounts.

They have been advised to be cautious while accepting friend requests and opening links and files from strangers and must refrain from using the same passwords across different services to prevent malicious hackers from gaining access to your information. Users have been recommended to use two-factor authentication on all online accounts.

Lock Your Profile

It is a one-step measure to lock your profile. Once you lock your profile unknown people cannot download enlarge or share profile photos, nor can they see posts or other photos on someone’s profile, regardless of when they posted it.

Meta has also said that their teams are working with civil society organizations to help ensure people know these tools are available.

Friends Lists

To help protect people from being targeted, Meta has temporarily removed the ability to view and search the friends’ lists of Facebook accounts.

Instagram Privacy and Security Reminders

Meta has started sending, a notification at the top of the feed about privacy and account security on Instagram. For public accounts, Meta is reminding people to check their settings in case they want to make their accounts private.

When someone makes their account private, any new followers will need to be approved, and only their followers will be able to see their posts and stories. Also, they are sharing tips on how to keep private accounts secure through strong passwords and two-factor authentication.

Coordinated inauthentic behavior

In the last 48 hours, Meta has taken down a relatively small network of about 40 accounts, Pages and Groups on Facebook and Instagram. They were operated from Russia and Ukraine and targeted people in Ukraine across multiple social media platforms and through their own websites.  The information has also been shared with other tech platforms, researchers, and governments.

This network used fake accounts and operated fictitious personas and brands across the internet — including on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, Odnoklassniki and VK — to appear more authentic in an apparent attempt to withstand scrutiny by platforms and researchers.

These fictitious personas used profile pictures likely generated using artificial intelligence techniques like generative adversarial networks (GAN). They claimed to be based in Kyiv and posed as news editors, a former aviation engineer, and an author of a scientific publication on hydrography — the science of mapping water. This operation ran a handful of websites masquerading as independent news outlets, publishing claims about the West betraying Ukraine and Ukraine is a failed state.

Hacking attempts by ghostwriter

In the past several days, ghostwriters have also started targeting people in Ukraine, including Ukrainian military and public figures. They target people through email compromise and then use that to gain access to their social media accounts and post disinformation as if it’s coming from the legitimate account owners.

Meta has detected attempts to target people on Facebook to post YouTube videos portraying Ukrainian troops as weak and surrendering to Russia.

Meta has also blocked phishing domains these hackers used to try to trick people in Ukraine into compromising their online accounts.

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