Iran Spies Built Fake News Site to Trick US Targets


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Iranian hackers savvy with social media created a fake news site and false Facebook credentials to spy on top-ranking officials in the US and elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal reports. Cybersecurity firm iSight Partners uncovered what it says is the most elaborate such scheme it has ever seen, reports Reuters. According to iSight’s report, hackers created 14 fake but credible-looking profiles on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn of “defense contractors,” “government officials,” and “journalists,” the latter from a fictional news agency called NewsOnAir.org. (The website is still up, but iSight says it’s bogus.) Then the hackers set about befriending their targets, first by becoming online friends with some of the victim’s contacts. Once friends with the victim, they would, for example, send a video requiring a log-in and password. That personal information would go directly back to the hackers, who would use it to try to gather data elsewhere on economic sanctions, nuclear talks, the US-Israel relationship and more. The targets included a four-star Navy admiral, politicians, ambassadors, lobbyists, and senior government and military figures around the world, dating back to 2011. The security firm isn’t providing specifics on who got duped or what information might have leaked, but it is working with the FBI.

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