Iranian group created fake news organization as part of hacking campaign
A suspected Iranian hacker group seeded Facebook and LinkedIn with bogus profiles of attractive women and even created a fake online news organization to get digitally closer to more than 2,000 people whom it wanted to spy on.
Once they had befriended their targets through fake profiles, the people were emailed malicious links designed primarily to steal email account credentials, according to a report titled “The Newscaster Threat,” released Thursday by iSight Partners, a security consultancy.
“If you can get into the corporate email client, there is a lot of intelligence gathering capability,” said Patrick McBride, vice president of iSight’s marketing and communications, in a phone interview.
The group is suspected to be in Iran, based on their working patterns and the location of their command-and-control infrastructure, said McBride said. Their activity is consistent with government-sponsored espionage campaigns, but “we don’t have anything specific tying them back to the government,” he said.
Those targeted were more than 2,000 U.S. military members, U.S. lawmakers, journalists based in Washington, D.C. U.S. and Israeli defense contractors and lobbyists for Israel, iSight said in its report, which it did not publicly release. It is believed the hackers wanted to obtain intellectual property or other sensitive information that would benefit Iran.