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Russian Hackers Trying to Disrupt EU Polls

It is believed that many of these attacks originated from a Russian hacking group

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Russian hackers are targeting European government systems ahead of the EU parliament election in May, according to cybersecurity company FireEye.

In their attempt to gather government information, two state-sponsored hacking groups – APT28, also known as Fancy Bear, and Sandworm — have been sending out phishing emails to officials, Engadget reported on Thursday, citing research from FireEye.

“The groups could be trying to gain access to the targeted networks in order to gather information that will allow Russia to make more informed political decisions, or it could be gearing up to leak data that would be damaging for a particular political party or candidate ahead of the European elections,” FireEye’s Senior Manager of Cyberespionage Analysis, Benjamin Read, said in a statement.

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The hackers use spear phishing, meaning that they pose as partner universities to the target. Pixabay

The Milpitas, California-headquartered firm said the campaigns by the two Russian groups are ongoing, but the firm did not say whether any sensitive data had been linked.

Microsoft last month warned that it detected recent activity targeting democratic institutions in Europe.

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The software giant claimed to have recently detected 104 targeted accounts belonging to organisations, including the German Council on Foreign Relations, The Aspen Institutes in Europe and The German Marshall Fund.

It is believed that many of these attacks originated from a Russian hacking group. (IANS)

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Facebook Introduces New Tools to Protect EU Polls

The EU officials had criticised Facebook in January for not rolling out proper systems to tackle disinformation fast on its platform

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook has introduced new tools to protect the integrity of the European Parliament elections in May.

Richard Allan, Vice President, Global Policy Solutions at Facebook, said in a blog post on Thursday that the aim was to prevent online advertising from being used for foreign interference and increase transparency around all forms of political and issue advertising.

“To help prevent abuse and interference, all the European Union (EU) advertisers will need to be authorised in their country to run ads related to the European Parliament elections,” said Allan.

Facebook will ask them to submit documents and use technical checks to confirm their identity and location.

“Importantly, this means that all the people who are reaching you with ads identified as related to politics or issues have been authorized as being in your country and will be required to provide accurate information about who they are,” Facebook emphasised.

The social media giant said to increase transparency, all ads related to politics and issues on Facebook and Instagram in the EU must be clearly labelled — including a “Paid for by” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad.

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

“We are inviting all political campaigns to start the ads authorization process now and we will start to block political or issue ads that have not been properly registered from mid-April,” Allan said.

Facebook has built an Ad Library to make it easy for everyone to find out about political or issue ads on its platforms.

“Here you will see all the ads that have been classified as relating to politics or issues and we will keep them in the library for seven years,” said the company.

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Facebook said it is expanding access to its API so that news organisations, regulators, watchdog groups and people can hold advertisers and the social media giant more accountable.

“We’re also making transparency information more visible on Pages, expanding access to our API to help more people analyze political or issue ads, and exempting news publishers from labelling their ads as related to politics or issues in the US,” added Satwik Shukla, Product Manager at Facebook.

The EU officials had criticised Facebook in January for not rolling out proper systems to tackle disinformation fast on its platform. (IANS)